On parents

The mortality and death of one, instantly highlights the limitations and finality of the other.

My mother’s actions and presence are a constant taunting reminder of the way time passes unnoticed and one day will sweep her away into memory. Her mothering is ever present in the lacking space of my fathering, and it puffs up nothing but my fear about the number attached to all of our days.

When we spent so much time in grief and shock our lives slipped away from us, I woke up in my 20s and my mother blinked years away waiting for the bitterness to leave her. Now she speaks and I feel a rush to fill any silence making up for lost time, always aware of the day when she is not here to fill it being a very very real day that will come for me some time.
Her presence is a constant reminder of the lacking space of fathers, it is a constant presence that bookmarks all the days of my life she could not possibly fill, no matter how hard she try. I may be 70 or 80 when it happens, but the fear of that quiet kills me even now, sharpened and magnified by my thorough familiarity with parent-death. The guilt that shook me as a catholic child returns to blanket me in my fitful sleep: were you kind enough, did you say it all, did you give what you were capable of, was there more time to be had, what did you waste, what did you waste, what did you waste?

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