2007 Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own

1 Apr

The death of a parent.  We all know that it will happen one day.   We are never ready for it, even if we have a few years to prepare for it.  It changes the roles of a family.  It changes the fabric of a person.  It even profoundly affects people on the peripheral.

In college, I didn’t think much about my own parents’ mortality.  I had a few friends who lost their parents, but these situations were exceptions– an older parent, a tragic accident, an unexpected illness.   I never understand what it could feel like, until Michael lost his father.

Michael and I were somewhere between acquaintances and friends-who-once-briefly-dated when we –I reluctantly– decided to give it another go.  The relationship was a do-over, restarting the usual course of courtship, keeping feelings at a safe distance from intimate.  It wasn’t until six weeks in that Michael confided in me that his dad was seriously ill and had recently had some setbacks.  “Don’t tell anyone.”

As the weeks past, his dad’s condition worsened, improved, and then became grave.  I didn’t know him well enough to read his moods, and he didn’t trust me enough to bring me in.  I spent a lot of time at his parents’ house but remained mostly in the dark except for the hints ascertained from one-sided conversations with his mom and sisters.  They assumed I knew everything.  I wouldn’t dare betray his trust.  I could be there for Michael, but not in any way comparable to the comfort his sisters received from their spouses.   I could be a distraction for him, but not in any way comparable to the joy his sisters received from just being with their children.  I was better than nothing, but not nearly a worthy substitute.

During this time, I couldn’t help but think “What if it was me?”  I remember my dad hugging me tight at his own mother’s funeral.  “Who would I hug?” ‘Who would remind me that I had to get out of bed everyday?”
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Bono wrote this song for his dad while he was dying.  I’ve always understood the relationship between a stubborn child and  stubborn father.  I now understand the struggle between an adult child and an aging parent.
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To my dad…
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Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff
You’re telling me and anyone
You’re hard enough

You don’t have to put up a fight
You don’t have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

We fight all the time
You and I…that’s alright
We’re the same soul
I don’t need…I don’t need to hear you say
That if we weren’t so alike
You’d like me a whole lot more

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

I know that we don’t talk
I’m sick of it all
Can – you – hear – me – when – I –
Sing, you’re the reason I sing
You’re the reason why the opera is in me…

Where are we now?
I’ve got to let you know
A house still doesn’t make a home
Don’t leave me here alone…

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you that makes it hard to let go
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own
Sometimes you can’t make it
The best you can do is to fake it
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own

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