Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Normal

We don't get a lot of phone calls at our house - we are an emailing/Facebooking/texting/in person sort of family. In recent years, I had taken to asking, "Yours or mine?" when the house phone rang because 95% of the time, the caller was either my father or my in-laws. I still hesitate every time the phone rings for a split second before I remember that I don't have a parent to call me any more.

When my father died, I realized I was an orphan. Granted, an adult orphan - more independent and capable than children who lose both parents and are forced to rely on extended family or social services to care for them. But there's something very lonely about recognizing that your family of origin is completely gone and you are the only one left. If you can't remember some event from your childhood, you no longer have parents who can fill in the gaps.

I imagine it wouldn't be such a stark change if I had siblings, but as an only child, I feel completely cut off and alone. I expected the holidays to be difficult, but they were okay. Thanksgiving was probably the hardest because we had been home with Dad the year before - taking him to chemo appointments, sitting with him in the infusion lab. So many comparisons from one year to the next. Christmas Day was the "easiest" because it had been so long since we had been with Dad on Christmas anyway. My birthday was a melancholy day. My family and friends were gracious, and the day was filled with fun activities and birthday wishes. But it was weird knowing there would be no call from Dad - no parent who was there on the day of my birth to acknowledge the anniversary of it. I mentioned to my family how sad it was to think of not getting a birthday phone call. My son took it to heart and disappeared with my husband's cell at one point so he could call me from another part of the house to sing me some birthday wishes. It was very sweet.

This is my new normal. No parents for Mother's Day or Father's Day. No parents to call with reports of new jobs or good report cards or birthday greetings. Some days, the new normal sucks.

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