Losing your parents is not easy no matter how old you are. It can be an emotionally difficult and life-changing experience. Even though it has been over 10 years since my parents left, I miss them tremendously.
I always looked to my parents for guidance, acceptance, and support. They became my best friends as I grew older. We grow from being a dependent in our childhood, a know-it-all in our teens, and later best friends with our parents.
I lost both of my parents in my adulthood. My dad’s death was not a surprise due to his type of cancer, but it was still painful. I have a vivid memory of my dad telling me to release him with love during his last days. I tried, but how can one release another who is loved so much?
By contrast, my mom’s death felt like a punch in the stomach as she passed away unexpectedly. Minutes after her passing on a dreary afternoon, I looked out the window feeling lost until I noticed a rainbow in the sky. Seeing this rainbow gave me comfort but disbelief and sadness followed for weeks.
My parents were a constant in my life. I called them every day. They helped me fulfill a dream I thought was not possible.
I wanted to become a teacher since I was a young girl. I babysat a lot and I was a recreation leader during high school and early college. I wanted to teach, but time moved forward and life got busy with marriage, children and purchasing a home.
I will never forget the day my mom and dad told me they wanted to talk to me. I had a feeling about this conversation and I was right. They told me to pursue my dream and finish my degree. They brought it up every time we got together.
My husband and I had so many responsibilities raising children, I could not imagine putting more on our plates. Where would I find the hours to complete my degree let alone studying and passing exams.
With a lot of organization and the help of our parents, I eventually completed my education and became a first-grade teacher.
Something happens when one loses the last parent. I felt like a final piece of my foundation was lost. The first year after losing my mom was a struggle. The pain was paralyzing and hit me randomly. One minute I was fine and the next minute I was crying.
One evening my family was conversing about their day with smiles and laughter. I felt like I was going to get sick. My heart was pounding and I had to excuse myself from the table. I knew what was happening to me, but I had no control.
It was difficult for me to discuss these feelings with my husband because he had not experienced the death of his parents.
No matter the compassion he showed, I felt he could not relate to the emotional roller coaster I was experiencing. He had a tough time knowing what I was thinking. I guess I expected him to read my mind and feel my heartbreak.
Looking back, it was a lack of communication on my part. I thought my husband simply did not understand what I was going through. We talked deeply about how I felt, and we came to the realization that I needed to allow myself to grieve and ride the wave.
Holidays were difficult. Just as I began to move forward with the healing process, a major holiday like Christmas came along and the grieving started again.
We tried to keep the family traditions such as celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve but after a couple of holidays, I realized that holding onto those traditions was depressing for my family and me.
I came to accept it was okay to change the way we celebrate holidays. We realized as a family that we had to create new traditions while holding the old ones close to heart.
The passing of my parents changed my outlook on life. I have become more patient and learned to prioritize what is important. I will always remember their wisdom, values, strength, and loyalty. In many ways I feel I am reflecting their legacy—one that I will carry forward proudly with my children.
Rozanne Alonzo is a Chino Hills resident and contributing columnist for the Champion.