Sometimes we read stories that we somehow believe are fabricated or too good to be true. I won’t lie, I’ve also had a bit of doubt when things seemed too convenient or too sad, until I came across Unathi’s stories.

When I tell people I lost my dad the same day I met him they never believe me. I believe there are people that we aren’t meant to know in life until they go through something that we’ve been through before.

I don’t know his struggles or what he’s been through before but his story reminded me of mine.

About 4 years ago I lost my mother who was the only parent that was there for me from the word go. The day I met my dad was actually the day he died after a sudden migraine. For Unathi, it was different. From the very beginning both his parents were there so we are different, we were – until he also lost his parents.

At times, as individuals we tend to look at things and situations and think nah he’ll be strong, but truth is that no one is ever strong enough to lose a parent. You’re probably wondering why his story is worse than mine. Well with him it was only two days after he buried his dad that his mom passed on. I for one know how numb one feels after burying a parent but the thought of burying one after another weakens me to the core.

People tell us to be strong and be grateful we had good parents. But what good is all of that if a parent raises you and teaches you everything in life, except how to live without them? There isn’t a day I don’t wish my mom was still alive. There isn’t a day I don’t wish someone can come along and take away everything that I’m feeling.

You think your situation is the worst until you come along people like Unathi and realise you’ve been through nothing. Had I met him earlier in life I probably would have been jealous of him growing up around a warm, loving home with both parents. But now it feels like I was fortunate, I only felt the pain once. There are no words anyone can ever utter to make you feel alright.

I’m writing you this message because I also don’t know how you feel, but somehow I know the emptiness you feel right now. And it’s going to take some time.

A few years ago I met a woman who was 73. She told me how it’s been 50 years since the passing of her mother but the pain still feels as sharp as if it happened yesterday. I hate it when people say they know what you’re going through, unless you’ve been through exactly what another has been through with no alterations, then you know nothing. The rate of a parentless generation is increasing drastically. Our parents are dying before we can ever make them proud. Every day we are faced with challenges as young people yet we also face the biggest one of not having a guarantee of how long we have our parents for.

The best gift a parent can ever give their child is that assurance that their love was never in vague. We grow up in a society where parents don’t say it often but their actions and physical investments in our lives show more than anything. Unathi, I may have never met your parents but if you are at least a quarter of who they were, then you surely are blessed. I don’t know when it’s going to get better for you but the important thing is you’re going to get better. You’re going to learn to live with the pain.

This part of your life is what determines the man you were destined to be. There’s no doubt that if they could see you now they’ll still be proud. People are going to tell you or advise you on ways to get “over” it but I assure you, only you determine when it will stop. This part of our lives where we can’t say ‘mom or dad’ is the part where we call adult life.


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