She passed away three weeks ago. What I have come to know now is that I am still no closer to knowing the answer to the question I posed in the first place – or that my general rhetoric has altered in the wake of her passing.
It started here…
If I thought my blog about losing our house at Wye River on Xmas day was tough to write, I think this one will tip the scales. My decision to write this comes from my recent understanding that, all of us, at some stage have had to or do have to say goodbye to our Mum. Until now, I had absolutely no idea just how hard that was.
I was warned by friends who have lost their mothers that this is incredibly difficult but nothing could prepare me for this. The inner desperation to hang on to the person you once knew is gut wrenching. The urgent desire to have to save them from something that you know is inevitable cripples you. The overwhelming maternal instinct to save them from the brutal suffering but knowing that the only way to do that is to pray for a swift end. I have never felt so conflicted in my life.
I have helped nurse my Mum for the past year and as she is now only days from death, I am struggling to know how to say farewell. She gave me life, she gave me love and she has been the most beautiful Grandmother in the world. She taught me the art of generosity and it was from her that I learnt to treat all people as equals. It’s funny how I have only recently acknowledged the many valuable qualities Mum has passed on to me.
As some of you know, our family home in Wye River burnt down on Christmas day. I was just telling a friend a week ago, whilst sitting on the deck at Wye, that I felt so blessed that we had the house as the memories of Mum there were abundant…
I had stopped here and am only now trying to find the words again, some three weeks later.
In all honesty, I did not grieve the loss of the house until Mum died. Whether it was shock or the simple fact that we had to get on with caring for Mum, the magnitude of the loss felt distant to me; surreal in a sense. Even in the week after Mums passing the hype of the funeral and family coming and going kept me comfortably adrift. The moment the funeral was over, however, I was desperate to return to Wye, desperate to find her there, connect in some way. It was at this point that grief rolled on in; a tsunami with no regard.
I was with Mum when she passed and had not left her side in the final days. I was determined that she not die alone and I had made a solemn promise to her that I would be with her until the end. In her final moments my brother and I lay on either side of her and it was not until we joined hands and placed them on her heart that she took her final breathe.
It was in this moment that I learnt, with all that’s said, the one thing you don’t ever actually say is goodbye. In a sense you let go. You let go of what it is that you have known all your life and begin searching frantically for a connection to something that is now not known.
I still haven’t landed in that new place of connection and maybe you never do. Maybe you just keep searching forever. One thing I do know is that I will never say goodbye!