When my father died years ago, my brothers and I had only taken a handful of steps into adulthood. We were in no way ready or prepared for Dad to pass on, but fortunately we had Mom to help us out. Mom made a lot of personal sacrifices to make sure that the three of us would be able to complete our educations with a minimum of debt, and for the most part she succeeded. (My two half-brothers were already pretty much into their adult lives.) When Dad died, Mom did what she could to shield us, so we could concentrate on our educations.
When Mom died two years ago, however, we no longer had a parent to shield us. Fortunately we had other people in our lives. I was given the task of arranging the funeral details, and it would have been much more difficult without Nomi's help. But at the same time, I knew that I had moved into a different role now, and I had to see to it that things went the way Mom would have wanted. That goes beyond the funeral, of course; I made sure that family photos and archives were kept safe, so that they could be shared with later generations.
Which is part of the reason I've been thinking about my parents recently. After Mom died, I came to an odd realization. Our parents raise us to be adults, of course, and to be able to deal with the world on our own, because that's what parents are supposed to do.
It now seems to me that the ultimate role of a parent is to raise their child to be prepared for the day when the parent is gone, and the child has to face the world on their own. Of course, that isn't always possible, as some parents tragically die too young to ensure that. But in my own case, even though I was rather young when Dad died, I now realize that he was preparing us for his absence, in his own way. And I've come to understand that Mom did the same.
I can only hope that my brothers and I are as equal to the task as our parents were.