My mother passed away a year ago, today.
When my brother rang me on the afternoon of June 25th, 2015, I was in the driveway, unpacking groceries from the car. I remember it was grey and overcast; I noticed the clouds and made a mental note to get the washing off the line. As I lifted out two bags of groceries, with my ear pressed to the phone wedged between my ear and my shoulder, I heard my brother say, ‘Have you heard the news? Mum died.’
‘She passed away in her sleep.’
‘@3$56&!’ I dropped the bags.
‘I know. This morning Dad woke up and tried to resuscitate her. When he couldn’t wake her up, he called for an ambulance.’
My brother says I was swearing like a sailor. I don’t remember it. Goodness knows what the neighbours thought.
Ma was in her eighties, a survivor of six “mini strokes,” it was not unexpected. Yet, the news still hit me like a ten pound weight to the chest.
In the year preceding, my mother had taken to talking a lot about dying.
On one visit, she was talking about her departure and I felt this need to truly thank her for everything. I thanked her for letting me return home and pursue my dream of being a writer in the early years. When I gave up freelance journalism at the age of 25, to pursue my dream of being a writer, my parents let me return home for a few years. Ma had always believed in me. I said I wanted her to stick around and see my first book published. I wanted that full circle moment, not just for me, but for the three of us.
So, when my brother rang me with the news, I thought, she can’t have died, our milestone moment hasn’t happened yet. No full circle moment. Life sucks sometimes.
Now that a year has passed since that day my family’s life changed forever, it’s a different kind of grief. It’s softer, not as sharp-edged. It’s settled onto a deeper level. Someone said somewhere that it was the little things they missed about their mother the most. I have found this to be true.
A woman who had talked our hind legs off her entire life, with whom we could never get a word in edgewise, had turned into a focused and intently interested listener in the last five years or so of her life. As I said in my eulogy, ‘She had moved on from only ever being the one doing the talking, to being the one who could also sit and listen.’
Mum had developed a real keen interest in my stories. She would ask and then really pay attention to me spinning my worlds. Mum had a childlike way of going there with me, which was deeply rewarding.
I miss our conversations. I miss her bright, watching eyes. I miss her laugh. I miss her spontaneous silly moments. I miss her sudden silly dancing. I even miss her crochet!
The loss of a parent is a cumulative sadness. I think my friend, author, James Preller expressed the compound nature of grief for a parent best, in a recent post on Facebook, when he said,
A day late, but this is my old man. I find that the day he died was not so bad; these things happen; but I miss him more now, feel it more now, ten years later. The missing accumulates, sedimentary, takes on heft over time. That weighty absence. And yet, and yet, an enduring presence too. My father. Still here, still gone.
The “weighty absence yet, enduring presence” is such poetry. I couldn’t possibly improve on this as a way of encapsulating my feelings about my mother, who passed away a year ago today.
I rang my father this morning, we spoke for a while. He’s okay. We’re okay. Yet, his wife of 65 years is gone. Ma’s still mourned. Still missed. Still loved.
On this, the first anniversary of her transition, my mother is, as James said, still here, still gone.
Yvette K. Carol
Raising children is one of the most significant things that a person can do. It matters a tremendous amount, and women who choose to do it should be held in high esteem. ~ Paul Rosenberg
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