It was just a year ago that we began our previous visit here in Southern California and so much has happened since then. That trip was the start of a four month “visit from hell” as we watched my mom die and then my dad die, both within six weeks of each other. Two funerals to plan and attend, two times of Shiva – mourning – and a house to clean out with 50 years of their stuff to go through – a lifetime of family memories – to get the house ready to sell.
And now we are back for the first time with them not here. It feels so strange as I go through many firsts. We had always stayed at their house with them, since we were there to take care of them and visit with them. Now I will visit them at the cemetery, only able to talk to them in my thoughts and to remember and hold onto a lifetime of memories of times shared with our family. Now we are staying with friends and family for the next few months. As we drove up to our friends’ house in Orange County, not far from where my parents used to live, it feels surreal. The reality that my parents are really gone along with their family house hits hard. It did not feel like we were back home in the USA. It took a few days for everything to sink in and realize that it is a new normal.
There will be a lot of firsts on this visit – the first time they are not both waiting at the door to hug us when we come in, the first Veteran’s Day parade on the Huntington Beach Pier without them (I could not go to it this year), the first Shabbat we are not together lighting the candles, saying the blessing and having dinner together, the first Thanksgiving, Chanukah, New Year’s Eve that we will not be celebrating together, as well as my dad’s birthday which was on December 25th – Christmas Day. Sometimes I catch myself wanting to pick up the phone to tell them something only to realize that they are not there.
Their unveiling is in a few weeks and even though there are a few more months of mourning and saying Kaddish for them every day, I feel that this visit will give me closure and I will come full circle able to move forward with my life and be able to enjoy being with our Jonathan, Liz and Joshua and all of our friends here, starting new family traditions and celebrating the holidays with our family together with Liz’s parents and family.
They are in a better place at peace together as they were for almost 59 years.
So we can now move on with our lives as Steve and I live between Southern California, South of France and England. Jonathan, Liz and Joshua can continue their adventures here in Southern California and visit us in France and England as we create our family memories together around the world.