Growing up, we’ve all heard the analogies of the momma bird trying to get her baby birds to leave the nest. She nudges them with her beak out of the straw-filled, comfortable and secure home in an attempt for them to spread their tiny baby bird wings and take flight. Many times, the birds crash and fall to the ground, only for the hopeful momma bird to try again another day.
The age-old tale of kids growing up, moving, up, and moving on with their lives as they enter into adulthood is a common life experience that we’ve all endured, whether we were the child growing up or the parent watching their child spread their own wings to fly. Both ends of the stick come with some form of discomfort in the life-changing waves that come crashing upon us in the drift.
Our parents bring us into this world with so much hope and wonder and they look forward to those moments of independent flight, being able to watch from the sidelines in utter pride, awe, and admiration as their baby birds leave the nest and soar into the horizon in the distance. It’s every parent’s dream to have the ability to say that they brought us up, raised us, and got us to the very moment when we finally take flight.
And yet, there are so many of us that stand at the edge of the straw-filled, comfortable and secure home that they have built for us, with a piece of us missing. In life, so many of us are forced to succumb to the realities of losing one of our parents before we gain the ability to venture out on our own, whether it be sheer independence, or becoming spouses and parents of our own.
It comes with its own kind of hollowness; a gaping hole inside of our chest that just feels like the breeze is passing right through us, longing to bring us to somewhere else.
It’s hard to feel the complete and total excitement and anticipation for one of those moments of “flight” when a piece of you Is missing, like, your wedding day, when you know someone you long to be there just can’t.
I’m five days away from marrying the love of my life, gaining the most supportive, loving, kind husband and the most beautiful, smart, witty daughter, and—while the excitement and utter awe that I get to have a family of my own with these two forever is washing over me—I can’t help but feel a kind of hollowness that my dad won’t be there.
When you’re young and you lose a parent, nothing really prepares you for that kind of loss. You’re almost stuck out at sea with only one oar in a boat that requires two to steer. You can make it on your own back to shore, but it’s not going to be easy and for much of your trip back, it’s going to be rocky and unsteady. That’s how I’ve felt most of my life since my dad passed. I’m blessed with the world’s most incredible mother who, most of my life, stepped up as both parents; but I spent the last 8 years out at sea missing one of the oars I truly needed to shift course.
I always think of my dad, sometimes I go a few more weeks than others. Sometimes I’ll stop and think of him in passing, other times I’ll really wish he were here for a conversation or to grab a cup of coffee. But, I don’t think I’ve ever missed my dad as much as I do now. I’m going to celebrate such a huge moment and milestone in my life without him here.
Of course, people try to say things and remind you, and almost beg of you to remember how they’re “here” and they’re “watching” and they “are so proud,” but nothing really fills that hollowness inside of you. The gaping hole is, in itself, a hole. There’s a piece of you that was there—a huge part of your essence and your soul, who you are—that’s just gone. And, embarking on some of the most memorable and monumental moments of your life, it’s when you notice the hole the most.
There’s nothing that can ever quite fix it, or mask it, or tape it up with ribbon to make it pretty again. Because, in the end, some holes can truly never be filled.
Lex Gabrielle is a lifestyle writer who believes in messy buns and 3+ cups of coffee a day. When she’s not writing, she teaches high school English, journalism, and creative writing. You can see more of her work at www.lexgabrielle.com.