When Your Mother Dies

I cried today. My mother has fought cancer for three years and yesterday she had a scan. I came downstairs into the kitchen to find her and Dad eating and she asked where I'd been the whole day. I was working so I told her, and she said she'd had her scan and matter of factly told me that they were stopping treatment.
It means she will be dead within four months. 120 days. Minus one now. I went to her and hugged, then my father. I didn't know what to say, and honestly I still don't. I stayed for a little bit in the kitchen and then not really knowing what else to do I went back upstairs.

I sat there for a while. Numb. Quiet. After a few moments I felt a cold rage spread over my heart and I thought about all the things in the past year. Losing the love of my life, losing my little one, losing my home, being villified and made homeless, and now this. Soon. Too soon. My mother will be gone. My father's heart must be breaking, but he's being strong for us all. I can only imagine his pain. I saw my sister's face and she looked like a ghost, and I've not had a chance to see my brother yet but I know. We all know. This is the day we wished would never come, the one we all fought against with everything we had, and it didn't matter. Our best wasn't enough, and she's going.

The rage crystallized - leaving a cold landscape of jagged edges in my thinking and a void where my heart should have been. I prayed that night for her, for us all, and asked God to take me instead. I would trade my life for a few more moments of her life. She made us who we are, made our home, grew our family, put us first, taught us to speak, to read, to think, and feel, to be good and kind and decent, to be honest, and strong, she made us who we are.

The first few years of our lives my father was overseas in England so I had just her and my relatives. A little later came my brother and then a couple of years later my sister, and only then did we all move to Northern Ireland. Living in a tiny little house by the sea. I remember the day we arrived. Dad picked us up in a little brown mini, and took us there. It was so cold but we got duffle coats and we were together and my heart was SO happy. I missed him. I missed them together. I missed us. Together.

Waves of memories came back last night, as sleep retreated and the tears didn't come. Holywood, the green hill at Redburn, the graveyard behind the school, Sullivan, the beach and waves, Seapark, Dad working, mum working, us at home, dinners, watching television, family arguments, game nights, and love. So much love. But nothing in my heart moved. Dawn came, and I went to work. I read the reports and spoke to the staff and drove home in the rain. I felt hollow and clear. Not quite empty - but ... still. And still no tears.

She's had a good life. She fought bravely, with more strength than anyone else I've ever seen, and turned an initial six month prognosis into 3 years - love and family helped but it was her. Her. My mother is the north star in any sky.

Tonight I sat alone in my house, and it was the first time I missed my ex, the little one, and suddenly losing my mum has become real. And now the tears are finally here.


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