A year ago today my mother died.
When I look back on that day it’s with the overriding memory of feeling bewildered. It’s silly, really, because although Mum had been ill for a very long time, she had worsened in the weeks leading up to her death. The possibility that ‘something’ might happen hung like a spectre in the back of my mind, almost taunting me with the knowledge that the ‘something’ in question would happen soon, but at an indeterminate time. The sword of Damocles hung, waiting to deliver the final blow. But when that blow did come, it struck hard. On December 4 2016 everything seemed to be happening in some kind of semi-awake dream state. I kept thinking that I would wake up soon and the nightmare would be over.
The thing is, I guess, for my Mum the nightmare was over. Years of suffering, and struggling through life. A life that would have promised much in her youth, but cruelly delivered so little, was over. The suffering of the preceding 5 or so years was at an end.
When I saw her prone in the hospital bed she looked anguished, I have to say. Not serene or becalmed as is the trope in these situations. Here face bore the remnants of a fierce battle, like she didn’t want to give up on life, like she fought until her last motherfucking breath to stay alive. Her eyes were still open and her mouth agape, as if she wanted to inhale once more, dammit. But, alas, no breath would come, nor would it ever. She fought the good fight, but it’s a fight that no one wins.
Later, in the Chapel of Rest, mum did look serene and at peace. Her features were no longer agonised: she’d let go of the fight, accepted the end, and was now able to go into oblivion without resistance.
This last year, for me, has also been a fight. Missing like mad those I loved and still love, both living and dead – my Mum and Dad chief among them.
If I’ve learned anything in the year since Mum passed away it’s this: it’s now time for acceptance.
R.I.P. Mum x