Deb VE foto 1

Deb Van Engelenhoven

Last weekend I ran into an old neighbor at Orscheln’s.

Alice Miller is 90 years old now but when I was growing up she and my mom were both young and raising their families.

I hadn’t seen her for awhile and I was pleasantly surprised and amazed at how great she gets around and how incredible her memory is.

We laughed and talked and she shared memories about how much time she and my mom spent together. Some of the best times, as she remembered, was sitting at each other’s kitchen table drinking coffee and just talking.

They were more than neighbors. They were great friends. She talked about the old days in Greenview and how we were all so close to each other.

Then she asked how many years it had been since my mom had passed away. It has been 37 years now. We both agreed that we lost her too soon and we shared a hug and some tears.

The memories of her and my mom and their friendship brought all of my grief back to the surface as if it were yesterday. My memories of my mom triggered memories of my dad and I became emotional on the drive home.

Grief over the loss of our parents changes us forever, I think. Other people have told me that they felt as if they lost a part of themselves but for me losing my mom when she and I were both so young felt like I lost my anchor in life. I was set adrift to try to maneuver life’s waters by myself.

Grief over the loss of our parents doesn’t magically end. Reminders bring back the pain of the loss for me. I am not just reminded on the anniversary of their death, not just the holidays or their birthdays but most often it is a sight, a sound, a smell or the love and memories shared with an old neighbor.

I am so thankful to have had Alice in my life. Her family, and the other families in Greenview, helped to form me into the person I am now. I wouldn’t trade those days for any others for all the money in the world.

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