Little Yehuda, one of the neighborhood kids I regularly watched over when I was lifeguarding back in high school, asked me once if I was more like my mother or more like my father. I, trying to make light of it instead of sobbing, told him I'd inherited my mom's good looks and my dad's bad memory. He thought about this for a minute and then said, all serious-like, "Well that's okay, then." When I asked him what he meant, he replied, "Maybe you'll forget he died."
Two years ago I was complaining about all the spam clogging up my inbox reminding me to get the perfect Father's Day gift. A friend who had lost her mother when she was a teenager said that Mother's Day is a lot easier for her now that she herself has children, but acknowledged that I (what with being of the female persuasion and having nary a chance of becoming a father) would never have the opportunity to re-appropriate Father's Day in similar fashion, and that this was sad.
Now that I am thirty-five, people are no longer so shocked to learn that my father is dead. I take strange comfort in this, and in the fact that I can almost always say without tears, "It was a really long time ago."
I was having dinner recently with a friend who lost her brother some years back, and I found myself explaining this to her: the double-edged relief that I've felt these last few years about finally being old enough for my cohorts to have also begun losing parents, for my own loss to have become less shocking.
It occurred to me even as I spoke that this generational relief, this growing in to an age where such a loss is normal, would still be a long time coming for her, and will never come to parents who have lost their children. It seems odd to feel lucky about the way one loses someone dear, but in so many ways, I was. Lucky, I think, that it happened so quickly. Lucky that the chronology at least was right, even if several decades too soon. Lucky that this loss, having happened so early, has finally receded into being merely one facet, if still and always a huge facet, of who I am now.