Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Before and after

24 Comments

I think most people have a date in their past that bisects their own history. The date when everything shifted, the world tilted, life changed. A date that is used as a measuring unit against all events past and future.

For me it’s the year 2004, the year we lost both parents and moved into adulthood with stunning finality. Forever more when I hear a date related to anything, an event, a birthday, a bit of historical trivia I think…”that was before Mom died.” or “Dad had been gone a year by then.” 2004 feels something like a watershed, with all the life experiences prior cataloged as ‘before’ and everything that has happened since labeled ‘after.’

Yesterday my husband and I sat with a family member in waiting areas of two hospitals as her mother struggled to stay alive. We listened to her story, how her mother came to be this ill, what the prognosis was. While we waited we told family stories about relatives long gone, family members today, heard about her kids far away in another state. We laughed a bit, got teary a bit, hugged some. Worried a lot.

I wondered if the day would become her dividing point, the day she would remember as her world tilting, changing, forever different. Thankfully yesterday didn’t turn into that day. And this morning the sun is shining and there are new questions to ask, new decisions to be made.

I sat in waiting rooms yesterday and contemplated how life changes. How change is different for everyone. How I’ll never have to sit in a waiting room making life and death decisions for either of my parents. How I felt slightly guilty to be glad of that. But how I would have been grateful for time with either of them no matter how difficult saying goodbye would have been.

In the past month I’ve had three good friends lose a parent, witnessed three families defining before and after. I guess it’s natural.

But darn, change is hard.

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Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

24 thoughts on “Before and after

  1. Yes, change is hard, particularly the change that occurs when you lose a loved one. It’s good that we have good memories to warm us and to share.

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  2. beautifully stated and so many of us can relate (((hugs))) DakotasDen

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  3. The ability to move on from devastating change is one of the most amazing qualities humans possess.

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  4. Change absolutely IS hard, Dawn. I remember a high school friend who, after losing her last parent, remarked that now, she’s an orphan (even though she didn’t lose them until she was well into adulthood). I guess we never really expect to bury our parents. And yes, how I’d like having more time with my own dad, who passed in 2008.

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    • The adult orphan concept is something I need to write about. It’s a real thing that comes up (at least for me) as quite unexpected. It’s a lonely thing.

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  5. Those defining lines in our lives- the befores and afters- always there it seems

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  6. I must admit I have never considered such events as defining….I can’t really think of anything in my life that has changed it so much as to put me on a different path. I think we are masters of our destiny and we make our lives to be what we want – some choose bad things, some choose good but ultimately that choice is our own – it seems to be something that many forget these days preferring instead to blame the government, their parents, their situation or what ever else they can think of.

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    • When truly life-changing events happen in your life–and they come to us all, sooner or later–you will understand. Some of these events may even be very good things. Others not so much. Some will be very, very difficult challenges. Whatever comes, it will be a great comfort to have friends who have known before . . . and after.

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    • I think you can choose how you respond to a life event. And how you remember that event. It’s different for everyone, that’s for sure.

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  7. Those milestones that define us….they are personal and varied but unite us.

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    • Yes they do. I know for my family the loss of my dad to a semi truck crash has united us with other families who have suffered the same experience. It’s good to spend time with people that understand.

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  8. As a close family member has just learned that her cancer is probably definitely not going away, I understand thinking of these things as watershed moments. Try as we might not to anticipate That Day, because it takes away from the present moment’s happiness, we do. Thankfully, I’m not thinking about that for my parents today. Change is darn hard.

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    • It’s hard to lose someone that way. I’m very sorry that your family has to deal with it. My husband’s parents both went through that. It’s unimaginable until you’re in the middle of it. Hugs to you and especially to her.

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  9. Yes, thank you for putting it in print. For me, it is as though that year’s change seemed to create a domino effect of major changes. It was truly a watershed year. These years after have had some rough stuff in them, and we had to work through them without Mom or Dad. I am thankful that I did not know what else was in my future, because it would have been more difficult to get through to the other side ( a task I am still pursuing). Dawn, feel free to edit this totally out — but thank you for putting the words in print.

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    • I guess it’s good we don’t know the future, ey? Sometimes it would just be so overwhelming. You did good to get through what you faced and I think you’re a stronger person for it. But I wish you hadn’t had to. Hugs.

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  10. I can’t imagine what having a watershed year of loss would feel like. To lose both parents in such a short time must be so disconcerting and shattering. After losing my dad a few months ago, I am deepening in relationship with my mom. But another friend lost both her parents within four months. That would be so challenging.

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    • It’s hard. But you do what you have to do to get through each day as an individual unit. And then you realize that making it through one hour, one day, suddenly you’ve survived a week, then a month and then you realize that you’re so much stronger than you ever knew you could be. I think it’s the same for every person…everyone is stronger than they realized they could be.

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  11. I’ve never thought of it that way, but my life is defined by the economic crash of 2008. Makes me feel lucky that I haven’t had to update my defining date to the loss of a parent. I can’t envision them ever not being on the other end of the line:(

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