“Still here, still gone”

Posted: June 24, 2016 in anniversaries, FAMILY, grief, James Preller, loss, memories, Mother, Therapy Writing
Tags: , ,

My mother passed away a year ago, today.

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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.’

‘What?’

‘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.’

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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.

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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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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Comments
  1. karenmcfarland says:

    Ack! A loss of a parent is mind-boggling. I felt numb for a long time. We lost three parents in three and a half years. I don’t even want to think about that time. I don’t know how we got through it. But from the sound of your lovely post, quite a tribute by the way, you had a wonderful relationship with you Mum, which is how is should be. I can only imagine after sixty-five years, your poor father has got to be a wee bit lost my friend. It’s enough to make your head spin. Recovery from grief takes patience to get over. So hang in there. We’re all here for you! ((Hugs))

    Liked by 2 people

    • yvettecarol says:

      Dad is definitely struggling. My eldest boy is close to his grandfather and visits more often than I do. He tells me that grandpa has taken to telling complete strangers he meets, how much he misses his wife, and that he has been talking this way more than he was before.
      I do worry for dad. It reminds me of that quote by Romy Halliwell which goes, ‘Middle age is that time in life when children and parents cause you equal amounts of worry.’
      I can’t get over your story about losing three parents in 3 years. You really are a survivor, Karen! Thanks so much for the lovely support 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thinking of you today, Yvette. Still here, still gone is a great way to cherish the memories. Times like this it’s nice to have bits of our mother in us. Take care!

    Liked by 2 people

    • yvettecarol says:

      Yes, it’s comforting in a way isn’t it, to see the family traits and things carrying through. Thanks, Catherine. I didn’t expect to feel any different today. I’ve been surprised by how poignant the first year anniversary is! I have to say, having a blog is nice outlet.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    A beautiful tribute, Yvette, and your sorrow breaks my heart. For you, for your father, for your whole family. Your friend’s words are quite moving: “That weighty absence. And yet, and yet, an enduring presence too. My father. Still here, still gone.”

    I haven’t suffered the loss of a parent, and I can’t bear to think about it. I don’t think we’re ever prepared, really. Sending prayers and hugs to you and your dad. So very, very hard for him. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Aw, thanks, Lynnie. It’s a shock to the system when you lose a parent. It feels a bit like you’re in a building and a supporting pillar gets knocked out. Yes, I felt my friend’s words encapsulated everything I needed to say. Poetry is wonderful that way!

      Like

  4. You’re so right about the grief having softer edges. It’ll be 6 years this fall since my mom passed and most days are okay but then I’ll have a big cry. I’d give anything for my mother to have lived another 8 years and actually reach 80. Big hugs to you! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Thanks, Tee. Yes, that’s it exactly. I go along just fine, and then the most random thing can bring her solidly to mind. And, I realize afresh in that moment, oh, I can’t go visit her, I won’t and can’t see her again, then I mourn again. I wish your momma had reached 80, too. ((hugs)) xx

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The end of June always brings on a melancholy tone to my days, although it’s been thirty nine years from the June morning that my dad died. I wish your mom could still be here with you but you carry her in your heart and mind every day. My mother once said to me, “Your father will never be gone as long as you’re alive.” And I say the same to you, Yvette. You’re mother is always with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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