Now that I'm more removed from it, I can talk a little more about the phenomena that is losing a parent.
It's an odd experience that hits in many ways and it affects those around you in various ways as well.
Friends who had been through it were either giving me a knowing look, a hug, or offering to be there if I needed anything. Some people were rather intrigued in a way because they couldn't conceptualize what it would be like. Some were so close with their own mothers that they couldn't be around me too much because they didn't want to think about the possibility of it happening to them. And some were going through it soon after, so we could attempt to help each other through some of the tough moments.
Some of my friends reached out to reconnect with their own mothers after I lost mine. Even if they had horrendous upbringings involving things like drug addiction or alcoholism.
Losing a parent is hard. Some people accept it more easily than others. I know someone who sticks pretty close to the other parent who is left and their life has been changed considerably by the loss.
There are still days where it hits me and some tears come. I'm sure that it will be worse at Christmas this year.
I think the hardest part of all of it is seeing that some good came from the loss. No, I'm not saying I'm happy in any way that my mother is no longer in my life. But my mom was mentally ill and some things could be quite challenging that no longer are, so there are times that I feel guilty for being able to see the good that has come from it.
Their house got cleaner than it had been in decades. We really came together as a family in a way I don't think I've seen in many decades. My dad and my eldest brother are talking more than they ever have in all the years I've known them.
And for whatever reason, I feel the most free to be myself that I've ever felt. Prior to it happening, a friend had told me that our family seemed stuck. We're not anymore.
Maybe it's because losing a parent hits home in a way that is like an attack on one's own mortality. Prior to losing my mom, it was something experienced from the outside and at a distance. It was slightly less real because I often didn't know the parent a friend had lost and had no concept of who they were. All I knew was the world had one less person in it and my friend was upset. I couldn't conceive of the magnitude of the loss. The strangest thing about losing a parent is that even if your relationship wasn't the strongest, you can feel the loss deeper than you ever imagined you would.
It alters everything.