What I didn't know, or what I think I was in denial about, were the changes of those around me, their aging and of course, their dying or going through major life losses. Loss is not new for me, there have been some big losses even when I was still a kid. What is new is the frequency and the certainty because of my age. My peers are dying or we have "conditions" that we used to think only "old people" get like gout, heart disease, and arthritis. Their parents are dying, their siblings; and their partners. Our lives are finite. We all know this. And yet I find myself completely ill-prepared with how to deal with this in such large quantities.
How do I help my dad as he keeps aging when I notice it happening at an ever rapid pace? How do I not alarm him at the fact that I see it, that I see that he is wobbly, and that I see confusion in him sometimes. Or, when hearing the sadness in his voice as he feels that he's losing control of his own body or when he tells me that all of his friends and his peers are gone, and how much he misses his little sister?
At 86 he is still independent and pretty healthy, though he's getting things he never used to get because of his age, most recently a leg infection. For the most part his mind is sharp as ever, and certainly sharper than mine (why yes, I did inhale, maybe I shouldn't have). He is my daddy, he is the man that has always been strong and always instructed me (which he still does), and now he's seeking my advice and guidance while fighting having to ask me for it. And, what do I do? I get snippy with him for being so stubborn, or, act like a deer caught in the headlights because I don't know how to do this.
Equally as difficult is how to help the friends I have known since we were literally kids or very young. I don't know how to help my best friend through the loss of her mother. I am ill-equipped. How do I hide the fact that inside I am still that 15 year old girl who thought her mom was the coolest mom around, and that took for granted she would always be here and I can't believe she is gone. How will my sadness and anger that this has happened be of any comfort to her?
How do I help my best guy friend from college as he goes through a divorce that he never saw coming and that he certainly didn't want? Sure, I have known plenty of people who have gotten divorced, or have been in such awful relationships that they should have never gotten married in the first place, or should have ended way earlier than they did. But this is different. I don't know his soon-to-be-ex wife nor anything about their marriage. I only know that this is a guy I knew before he was married or even in a serious relationship and who hadn't been hurt like this and had no bitterness. He is one of the nicest people I have ever known and who now doesn't see the good in himself that I see. How do I help him see it again?
As I always do, when I am going through something big, there is always a song that fits what I am feeling and often helps me find an answer . This one has been playing in my head often for the past few weeks, especially these lyrics:
And me, ever changing time
Everything is going so much faster
It seems like I'm
Watching my life, and everything I do
Wonder if the dreams that I believed in
Still come true