The month of April in the Northern Hemisphere always has such promise. Maybe it is the end of the snow and the anticipation of the warmth to come. The strength of the sun, more hours of daylight, the return of the vacationing birds, and diminishing snow banks all make for a hopeful time. This has not always been the case for our family however. April was the month when my brother, Frank and I lost our parents, with twenty-two years between their deaths.
When our father died, Mom, Dad and Frank lived in Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. Dad died of cancer, which was undiagnosed until it was too late. Treatments gave him a few extra months to say goodbye and his expected death was an end to suffering.
Rick, Claire and I spent Easter with them that year. We returned home and Dad died two days later. Our daughter, Claire was five at the time, and had seen Dad in bed, barely able to speak, tossing and turning, swollen. She did not understand what was happening.
When Dad died, we returned to St. John's for the funeral and Claire accompanied us to the church service but not the funeral home. We talked to her about Poppy having died, and what that meant. Claire was very quiet but observant of the events.
On our return home, Claire was different. She cried when we left for work, clinging to us as we left the house. This was so unlike Claire.
Soon we realized that Claire feared she would never see us again if she left us as well. She feared our deaths too. I talked with her about Poppy's sickness, what he was like when he was sick and that her father and I were not sick like Poppy. Claire was satisfied with that reassurance.
Twenty-two years later, Claire and Ben were married, living in England and home for a visit. My mother, living with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, died suddenly as Claire and I held her. Claire's training as a nurse helped both Mom and me that day. The little girl who was so fearful after Poppy's passing was a rock dealing with her grandmother's death.
Yes, April has such promise.
Mom and Dad... Often in our thoughts and always in our hearts.