Losing my father in 1992 at the age of 38 was traumatic. I was unprepared for him to go, but life goes on, leaving my mother, two older sisters, older brother, and I as our new core family unit. A family unit that got stronger. Stronger that was until the very unexpected loss of my brother in 2004. Now it was just us girls, Mom, Sandy, Linda and Myself. Our bond grew stronger, taking care of our mom and sister Sandy. Then Sandy left us in 2013, followed by mom in 2014. Now it was just the two of us, Linda and I.
Linda was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in December 2016 and in September 2017, she too left me. Suddenly I am alone. Who will now remember the stories? Who will I call when I want to vent?
When your parents and siblings die, you face all kinds of other adjustments and emotions as well. I didn't just lose the people themselves; I lost the role they played in my life. Suddenly I am alone.
When mom died, I lost the custodian of generations of knowledge, keeper of family memories. She was the last person who could possibly identify all those people in the photo albums, who knew all the family stories, and how to make egg noodles from scratch. Suddenly I am alone. I've lost the custodian of my past.
The same can be said of my sisters. They knew the family secrets. They remembered relatives I do not because of the difference in our ages. The ones I would call when something good or bad happened. The ones I called when I was sad, lonesome or bored. The ones who I would call to brag to about my children or grandchildren. Suddenly I am alone. Who can I call to share details of my day with?
What I have found, though, is that their deaths opened the scrapbook of my memories, when we were all younger, in both good and bad times. I will hold these memories close to my heart and treasure them daily.