Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Milestones or Assumptions?

Losing a child has to be the hardest thing God asks anyone to face.

I've been following a story here in Denver on the case of a Colorado woman who moved to Georgia. She was back in Denver for Christmas, returned to Georgia and was suddenly missing on New Years Day. Turns out she went for a hike with her dog and encountered a wanderer who murdered her.

Story here:

The murderer was sentenced to life in prison last week. At the sentencing, her father spoke about his regret that he'll never walk her down the aisle at her wedding, or hold a grandchild.

Why is that always what parents say? That they most look forward to seeing their child get married? That they expect them to have children?

I understand that they are talking about milestones, but why does everyone assume that everyone is going to get married and reproduce?

I mean no disrespect to this woman's family. I understand the loss. My sister was murdered at the same age as this woman. But my parents never said a word about missing her wedding. Maybe that's because she already had a baby. I don't know.

I bring this up because as someone's child... if that's the big event my parents were looking forward to... well I feel like a lousy kid. I'm almost 38. I've never been married. I've never had a kid because I don't want to raise a kid without a husband. I realize that even if I do get married someday, my parents may not be around to witness it. Does that make me a failure? One basic thing that my parents want for me and I can't even give them that!

My thoughts also go to the children who hear this expectation come from their own parents mouths... even though they might be gay. Can you imagine the pressure of a poor kid who knows he or she will never have ANY interest in the opposite sex - to learn that the big day their parents are waiting for is a wedding day?!?

Maybe it comes from knowing a great love.... and wanting nothing but a great love for your child. Maybe that is the supreme happiness. Maybe that's as good as it gets.

But to me, it's almost like saying that unless you find that love... that dang near impossible to find love... that your life was somehow empty. And I guess I find that insulting because I don't view my life as empty.

Maybe some of you folks who have fallen in love and bred and reproduced can enlighten me.


Anth said...

Maybe the bereaved parents often say that because those are times when your heart wells up and is completely overwhelmed with happiness. NOT that those are the only times your heart bursts with happiness, but they are the easiest to quickly name.

It's kind of hard to describe that you'll never again have a time like when the two of you were hanging out on the back porch eating ice cream and talking about your daughter's favorite book with her and you wished you could bottle it up it was so precious. How you'll never get to hang out with your kid again (in this life). It's not the kind of thing you get into at a press conference. So they go for the cliches because the cliches are like a universal shorthand for all the little moments you won't have.

TRS said...

Anth, you put that beautifully!
And the way you put it made sense.

I'm just saying that it is so hard from my perspective because it seems so flippant to assume that everyone finds love, gets married, and has babies. Life is not that simple for many of us.

A year ago, my church back home (where my parents have gone for 48 years, at least) was putting together a history book - each family in the parish was to submit a family history to be published.

My mom wrote about my grandparents on each side... when mom and dad got married, where we three kids went to school.
It included my brother and his wife and kids and each person's defining occupation or hobby.
When she came to me it only amounted to, "TRS has a Bachelor's degree in *********, from the University of **********. She now lives in Denver and works for a ******** company doing ********."

That's it. That's all my accomplishment. I haven't reproduced or fallen in love so that's the end of my story. Bah.

What about the fact that I love to travel, try new things.... I have dear, close friends in almost every state in the union? That my friends beg me to take photos of their most treasured occasions?

When I pointed this out I think I hurt Mom's feelings a little... and all she could say was that the deadline was already past and it couldn't be changed.

It's so short-sighted to sum up someone's life in their marital status.