For many years, my grief was focused on the unfortunate events that surrounded my orphanhood. Up until this year, I hadn’t really gotten the chance to explore my grief for what it is truly about at the core: the loss of my parents. My heart and mind were too busy trying to understand and digest the abuse, the poverty and the lack of belonging that came with my orphanhood. This year, I am grateful for the opportunity to finally being able to feel my grief in its complexity. Today, I’d like to tell you about what I find to be the ultimate grief sacrifice that both my heart and mind have had to make. In a few days, my daughter will be turning two years old. Becoming a motherless mother has been very challenging. Like most things in life, I’ve had to Google my way through pregnancy, giving birth and mothering my baby. The older my toddler gets and the more I observe her, the more I realise just how empty and depriving my own childhood was. See, my daughter has something that I lost the day my parents died: comfortability in her existence as somebody’s child. What I mean by this is that every time I see my daughter play or hop on the couch to sit next to me, or climb on my husband when he is asleep, etc., I realise that she is comfortable being a daughter to both my husband and me. That feeling of caution and uncomfortableness that I had growing up is something she does not experience around my husband and me. After my parents died, I was never legally adopted or claimed by anyone. I grew up in quite a few different family households (for a few years I was with an older cousin, then an uncle, then another cousin, then an aunt…). I never felt 100% comfortable like I did when I had my mom and dad. It almost felt as though I was living my childhood walking on egg shelves. I had a constant fear of being rejected and abandoned. I did not run up to anyone with a big hug like my daughter does. I did not sit at anyone's feet randomly to talk about my day. I never felt comfortable enough to randomly comb someone’s hair (my daughter loves pretending to groom my hair). Don’t get me wrong; it is not that people did not make me feel at home (although some didn’t). It was all happening in my mind and in my heart. I just didn’t feel comfortable because I felt like I no longer belonged to anyone. I felt like an old couch left outside for anyone to make their own, but no one ever did... My feeling of comfortability in my existence as somebody’s child died the day my parents died, and it will never come back. Although many aunts, uncles and family friends ask me to “take them as my new parents”, it is just not the same. My mind knows it and my heart can’t be fooled. There is always a feeling of “I don’t fully belong” and that makes me feel uncomfortable. As I watch my daughter “be my child” so comfortably without fear, I realise just how much becoming an orphan affected me. I am an adult now, but I still live each day with the feeling of uncomfortableness. I unconsciously treat every older adult in my life almost with the type of reverence a slave is meant to have towards his master (forgive the analogy). I just can’t bring myself to feeling like I belong, and perhaps that will never change. My parents’ death left a hole in my life, and that hole can never be filled. It almost feels like filling the hole would be like erasing my parents’ existence.
I guess my heart and mind have sacrificed my own comfortability in my existence as somebody’s child in order to preserve my parents’ existence as somebody’s parents. This has been my ultimate grief sacrifice.