Mum

On Tuesday it will be the third anniversary of our dear Mum’s death and so May is always a countdown to the 24th, when memories of her time in hospital are at their most raw. My Timehop photographs are testament to just how poorly she was, yet we were convinced that she was coming home again and just days before she died, the doctors were talking about the plan for when she would return home. Yet I am certain that Mum knew how ill she was, more so than the medical profession. We still feel her loss as keenly as we did 3 years ago and she has left a huge gap in our family. My sister and I are constantly trying to make her proud, even after her death, constantly referring to what Mum would say or do in difficult situations, so she is still guiding us in our choices, even though we can no longer discuss our dilemmas with her in person.

Yet I am very grateful for a number of aspects of Mum’s death :

  • That she died in May2019 and not May 2020. We were not tied by Covid restrictions at all : we could visit her in hospital as often as we wanted to, there was no limit to the number of different visitors that she received, we were able to hug her when we saw her and when she did die, we were able to plan and host the funeral that we wanted to celebrate her life and invite as many friends and family as we wanted. My heart aches for those who have lost parents during the pandemic and have not been as fortunate as us in these regards.
  • That my parents were generous enough to have two babies, so that by my side, throughout the grieving process, I have had my precious sister. We have had so much love and support along the way, but only my sister understands exactly what we have lost in our mother and that shared experience has been invaluable to me and has helped me to heal.
  • That I was by her side when she passed away: Mum asked a nurse to call me the night before, to tell me that she had an additional infection. I bluntly asked the nurse if she was going to die from it and was told no. I then asked if she wanted me to come over – it was a 2 hour drive – and she replied that she did. My sister had been with her the whole day and had left in the late afternoon, and this call came around teatime. Fortunately my best friend had just come round, with her son, to see our new puppies, so I was able to grab an overnight bag and leave them in charge of Joshua, until my husband returned from his day out. I am so relieved that I went that night and that I stayed by her bedside, all night too. I had called my sister early in the morning to come over as Mum was not right, but sadly I made that call too late in the day. I was there, holding her hand when in the early hours of 24th May, Mum took her last breath , she was not alone.
  • That Mum was a practising Christian so she had no fear of death. She will have had comfort from knowing that she would be reunited with her beloved husband – minus his dementia- who died 5 years before her. I believe that there is an afterlife too and I am frequently comforted by every butterfly, rainbow and Robin that I see .
  • That we have no regrets at all about how we behaved while she was ill; my sister and I were regular visitors, as regular as our work and family lives could allow, but we were there every week of her long hospital stay. I am confident that Mum knew how loved she was and we certainly knew that from her too. One of the last things she said to me was a caring instruction to ” Just sit down and drink your tea”, which was her response when I returned from a conversation with the doctor and wanted to discuss her Do Not Resuscitate instruction that he had told me about. Mum just knew; she was very wise through all of her life – her sisters called her ‘Dear Clever Helen’ – and she was very wise and calm around her death too.

So as we approach 24th of May, and all of the emotion that will bring, I will try to reflect more on how fortunate we were and less on what we have lost and echo the sentiment of this David Harkins’ poem:

“You can shed tears that she is gone, or you can smile because she has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember her and only that she is gone, or you can cherish her memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back, or you can do what she would want : smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

2 thoughts on “Mum

  1. Hello my friends, Thank you for your blog today Emma, it took me back to that time 3yrs ago, all very vivid memories. As you can see by the responses on Facebook, we all thought a great deal of your Mum. She was indeed a very special and much loved friend I see John commented too, so I thought you might like to see this photograph

    And those flowers were picked from her garden for her funeral service

    I went to the Halle last Thursday, and sitting in the stalls, I had a view of where your Mum sat. She was very much in my thoughts.

    Will be thinking of you all next Tuesday, as I’ll be viewing a live stream service of my cousin’s funeral from Hereford Crem.

    Love to you both Gill xx💕💕

    e: Gill.oldham@hotmail.co.uk

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