I woke suddenly in the wee hours of the morning, unsure if it was the pounding thunder that had startled me awake or the pounding of my heart.
I sat up, desperate to escape the darkness as scenes from my dream flashed before me.
I’d dreamt that my mom had died, and upon waking, felt the crushing blow of emptiness seep into my consciousness and take over my entire being.
And the dream wasn’t even the scariest part. It was the fact that I knew one day, without a doubt, it would become a reality. Had it already? I wondered as I listened to my sleeping husband breathe, struggling to find breath of my own.
Panic swallowed me, as I considered the possibility that my mom had already died—that perhaps the dream was some sort of supernatural alert.
For the next four hours, I tossed and turned, my mind spinning frightening tales of my mother’s death while I frantically waited for dawn to arrive.
I made the phone call at a still-too-early time of day, fearing that the time had come when a call to my parents would go unanswered for the final time. But the concerned voice of a mother greeted me, and I finally caught my breath.
This isn’t the first time panic over the well-being of my parents has consumed me.
These days, almost any time my call goes unanswered, my mind unravels, along with my heart.
I’m of the age where losing a parent is not uncommon, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to mine.
When I call and they don’t answer, I worry.
When they say they are going to call, but don’t, I worry.
When one does call, I worry, afraid that it’s the phone call to inform me of the other’s death.
When they are late, I worry.
When they are traveling, working, or sleeping, I worry. When they do something, I worry. When they do nothing, I worry.
Have they been in a car accident? Are they sick? Has one had a heart attack? Will they wake from their sleep? Are they safe?
Are they alive?
My parents are in good health by all accounts, and thankfully they’ve had the opportunity to age. To watch their children reach adulthood and get to know their grandchildren.
But the aging process can only last so long, and I fear they are reaching the end of it. As time has passed and I’ve witnessed many friends endure the loss of one or both parents, I can’t help but consider that I, too, will one day be met with the death of mine. The loss of the only people who have known me since birth, the only people I’ve known my entire life. They are the only people who have always been there.
But as I, too, have aged I’ve realized there is no such thing as always, for everything must come to an end.
So for now, I thank God for another day in which my parents walk this earth and pray for a few more.
I hope our remaining time together will equal more than a few days—if I’m lucky we’ll still have a few more years.
And if not, I’ll be grateful that we ever had any time at all.
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