On April 24th 1924, the pioneer writer Laura Ingalls Wilder got a note that her mother, aged 84, had died. It was a sad day, particularly since it had been so many years since she had been able to see or spend time with the woman who had raised and loved her.
Wilder would address this sadness with her typical grit and stoic demeanor in her now popular newspaper column a few days later. “Some of us have received such messages,” she wrote. “Those who have not, one day will.”
It seems obvious but it is an obvious statement worth repeating because our mind does everything we can to avoid letting it sink in: Each and everyone of us that lives long enough to see it will be told that our parents have died. Like Seneca wrote, we see it happen to other people. We know that our folks, like all other humans, are mortal. Yet we refuse to learn the obvious lesson: That the same thing will happen to them and to us.
Each of us holds the fantasy that we can escape this loss. The proof of this fantasy is the way we treat those relationships today. We ignore phone calls or sigh our way through family dinners. We hold onto to feuds or deprivations of our childhood. We put off until later coming to appreciate and understand the people who raised us–flawed people yes–but people who in the vast majority of cases, genuinely tried their best
To paraphrase Marcus: Your parents could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think. The message of your loss is coming–and if it has already come, then some other loss–and it may be on its way right now. So do what you can now, appreciate them now. Ask them the things you want to ask them now. Say the things you want to say now. Before it’s too late.