It was shortly after I had our first. I can recall looking at him. And in the very depths of me… beyond my heart and soul… I felt it. A sinking feeling. The reality that someday I would lose my parents. And that my husband would lose his.
I don’t know if it’s because holding my own child made me immediately feel infinitely more mature. More seasoned in life. Or if it’s because I realized that they, the people who had raised us, were now my child’s grandparents. And I didn’t get to know the majority of my grandparents for very long. That’s the cycle of life, I suppose… if fortunate, a parent shouldn’t have to lose a child. More often than not, parents go before their children. And as I stared at our firstborn, this all struck me. And I didn’t like it.
I didn’t even know our little man yet. But the one thing I already knew, without a single doubt, was that I loved him with an ineffable force. And with that came a new realization… our parents had loved us this very same way, since the day they met each of us. They loved each of their children without question, or reservation. They had lived the sleepless nights. The feelings of exhaustion. The wholeness of a heart that is breathing in a babe asleep on their chest. They knew how it felt to be scared that they were doing it all wrong. And the joy in the times where they felt they were getting it all right.
This feeling was the very same that my parents felt for me. As they held me in their arms. As they watched me stumble and fall. As they went from holding my hand to letting me walk alone. As they watched me succeed. And fail. As they helped me to grow and become. They loved me. With an ineffable force.
I thought through it all. All that they had done. Been through. And survived. In order to get me to this point, this point of holding our baby on my chest. And I decided. I decided that instead of being sad that we would someday lose our parents… instead of focusing on that… I had to be immensely grateful that I even got to have that moment. The moment where they got to meet another grandbaby. The moment when they were, again, more than parents. The moment where they, once again, got to experience the miracle of life. The moment where I felt a deeper gratitude than I’d ever felt for them. And in that, I felt a peace. A peace in knowing that when I had that moment, they were here for me to rest my head on their chest, wrap my arms around, and say I love you with a whole new meaning.
Today, when I look at our parents with our three children, that sinking feeling has been replaced with joy and contentment. Joy that our children get to know them. And that they adore them. And contentment in understanding now that just because I am a parent, doesn’t mean that my parents are done being mine. And that because of that, maybe if I’m really lucky, someday I may even get to know the feeling they get to feel now. A new force. And that… Well… That isn’t sad. It’s actually, pretty grand.