As the days grow shorter and as we approach year’s end, I find that I’m drawn deeper inside myself and become more reflective. That, along with National Letter Writing Day, inspired me to begin to write a Forever Letter to my parents.
I have been thinking a lot about them lately. In part, because we’ll soon be headed back east to celebrate their 80th birthdays, and in part because I’m reflecting on their aging, on my aging (mid 50s), on our lives together thus far, and how our lives together will unfold in the up and coming years.
You see, we live on the opposite ends of the country, and I remember when my son was born how hard it was to be so far away, lamenting that he would not get to know my parents as part of the fabric of his everyday life, and wishing we lived closer, close enough to have meals together, or to pop by just because.
Now, as my parents age, I once again feel that it is hard to be so far away. I want to be there for them, to cook them meals, to accompany them to doctor appointments, to go out to dinner with them, to just lie in bed next to them shnugling and talking, to tell them I love them, to have them love me, to hear more about their lives as they reflect on them, and to hear snippets of wisdom and guidance that would seep out just because we are in each other’s company.
I know our time together is limited, and I feel it, not just because we’ll be celebrating their 80th birthdays, but because they are getting older, and they are feeling it in their bodies and in their minds and in their souls.
I remember when I turned 21, and my dad called me on my birthday and said something like, you’re almost a quarter of a century, I hope we’ll have another 25 years together. And here we are, nine years post the 25-year milestone.
I know my parents will not live forever. And I know how hard it will be for me when they are no longer here. I know I will feel unmoored and empty, with a hole in my heart, and I will have to figure out, like many before me, how to live without parents.
So, this week I will be sending this Letter to my parents to tell them this… and more.
If you have aging family, consider doing the same. Consider reaching out to them with compassion, courage and love and telling them what is on your heart.