"Did you know you can guarantee somebody's everlasting life if you enter their birthday into your calendar as a recurring event with no end date?" asked an acquaintance recently, after updating his calendar when he realized that he didn't have his mom's birthday in his calendar, and he'd missed it.
Clearly, I could have tried harder to keep my mom alive. I never put her birth date in my electronic calendar. I don't think I even wrote it into the paper one this year, since I'm unlikely to forget it.
Obviously, my new friend was joking. And I was briefly amused, after I was sad. I'm sad a lot these days. And feeling a little surrounded by people talking about their parents. Or their families. Or - God help me - their holiday plans. And I've lost count of the number of times I've told people not to be jealous of the Christmas trip I'm taking to Hawaii, because while I'm traveling bankrolled by my dead parents' life insurance policies, my friends will be spending time with their actual - living - parents. They win. In a big way.
I'd like to surround myself with other orphans so we can commiserate, but we seem to be in short supply these days, at least among the folks I know. So while I try to find the orphans club, my friends chatter un-thinkingly about their recent phone calls with their parents. And I remain silent. Waiting for the day this seemingly normal turn in a conversation doesn't hurt so damn much.