I had never heard the term adult orphan used to describe an adult after the loss of both parents, until I happened to read an article that discussed it. Even then, I was a bit of a skeptic about the term. But the more I thought about it, and thought about my own loss, it is a very accurate description. My father died when I was 6, so my memories of him are just 6 short years, I didn't get to know him as a man, and most of what I did know of him is clouded with sadness, I remember his suffering, the loss of his eyesight, the loss of his leg, the many diabetic comas, and ultimately the loss of his life at age 42.
My mom was my rock.
I clung to my mom and worried at night about what would happen to us if she died. Where would we live? Who would take care of us? Often I would cry just thinking about her potential death. In my teen years, I didn't want to show her how much I loved her, because I was scared. Then something terrible happened just two weeks before my 21st birthday (she had MS, and her mobility was declining). She showed me how swollen her leg was, rubbed it, and poked it to show me how much edema she had. All of a sudden she said her chest felt heavy, and within seconds she stopped breathing. I called an ambulance and my sister. I knew she was gone and no one could bring her back. But I hoped and begged her to come back, knowing that I wasn't ready. My mom ultimately died of a pulmonary embolism (blood clot to the lungs) at the age of 55.
I am an adult orphan.
I literally cried for my mother every night the first year. She was the center of our family, the glue that held us together, and we all drifted apart. My 5 siblings and I tried to remain close. I was the baby of my family, my mom's last baby. Who would now be the one to tell me, "I am so proud of you" "You're beautiful" (I gave her nothing to be proud of, and I certainly am not beautiful). I wouldn't be able to show her my first house, or her tell I was pregnant, she would not see all of her grandchildren. I think about her several times a day every day then feel guilty because I miss her more than my dad. I still relive the day she died, on a regular basis. The heartache doesn't go away, it mellows with time. The times where I feel most like an orphan, are holidays, birthdays and all of those special days. And it will always be that way.
There is laughter. My mother is the center of many funny stories, despite her short life. We re-tell the stories over and over when all of us are together. We laugh about how we prank her, and she would retaliate. My sister and I took great pleasure out of embarrassing her in public. When I think of mom I always smile and laugh. It also helps to reminisce about my dad with my siblings, which gives me more insight than the 6 years of memories I experienced with them. My parents have been gone for many years now. It's been 43 years since my dad passed away and 28 years since the passing of my mother. I still long for them, even though it has been so long. #adultorphan #grief #sorrow