Losing Mum

My mum died on Sunday 26th October at 23.00. The death certificate states she died the next day as the doctor took a while to get to her, he said he was sorry for our loss but he was busy.

I feel like I’m walking around in a different season or maybe in a different world completely at the moment. It’s not the same here without my mum, but nobody seems to know that, life goes on just like it did the day before she died. Everybody is moving far too quickly and I can’t seem to keep up, time is running away with itself while I am standing still. Life for me at the moment is like watching a movie, I can see what is going on but I’m not really in on the act, I’m sure the credits will roll at some point.

I have thrown myself into being busy, too busy to think, too busy to face anything I can’t face right now. I’m cleaning out mum’s flat with my sister, I’m sorting our mum’s stuff like it belongs to a stranger. There are moments when I pick up some clothes, a jacket or cardigan, and sniff at the collar like a dog looking for a scent. I want to breathe in her smell and feel safe within it again, I close my eyes and imagine she is there with me. But the moment passes and I continue sorting the junk from the jewels.

We stayed those final days in the hospital with mum, the doctor called for the family although we had been there every day. I sat on a chair at the end of her bed and watched her sleep. Those last few days she slept a lot, she was preparing herself for the journey ahead. The day before mum died, she said to the nurse she wanted to press a button and be dead. She had fought the cruel disease for eleven years until the day she wanted to die. Minutes before mum died I prayed for her, I prayed the suffering would end and she would pass over easily. I moved a bottle of spring water that was blocking my view of her lovely face, she told me off for disturbing her. I remember thinking to myself that she never told me off, we couldn’t really do anything wrong in our mum’s eyes.

We called for a nurse as mum needed her morphine injection. It didn’t help this time, she needed something much stronger to help. When the nurse went to get it mum started to pass over. It took minutes, but time stood still, minutes turned into something much longer as we watched our mum die. We tried to help her to go without us, we told her to go and that we would be okay. We told her we loved her and thanked her for being our mum. We were trying to tell her how much we loved her, we didn’t want her to go missing anything, we didn’t want her to forget. She knew we loved her, we didn’t have to say but we both needed to, we wanted to say it for the last time. I have worried since that I was on her deaf side and maybe she couldn’t hear me.

I don’t know the actual moment mum went and if some of those last drawn out breaths were just the body doing what it had done for so long. Were the lungs just responding as they always had while the blood slowed down on its final journey around her body. I don’t even know how she died, was it the lungs or her heart that finally gave up?

I’m not sure what happened right then, my body shook uncontrollably and I couldn’t stop my arms and legs from moving. My sister wanted to help me but also wanted to stay with mum. I didn’t want to be selfish, I just couldn’t help myself. My son said afterwards it sounded like a response to the shock. I’m not sure why I was shocked, I was expecting mum to die, I had prayed for her to be out of pain but I just couldn’t cope with the reality of it actually happening. Losing the one person who had loved me from the very moment I was born.

We stayed with mum for a while, she looked beautiful, she was always beautiful. The lines and the constant daily pain faded from her face and she looked at peace at last. We knew she wasn’t really there anymore, the body was just a vehicle but how we had loved that body, we had both lived in that body for a while. I told the nurses that my sister and I would clean and dress mum, but my sister told me I wouldn’t manage it, she told me to go. I sat in the family lounge while my sister got mum’s body ready for the morgue, she called my mobile to ask what mum should wear . I remember looking up the train times on my phone while I waited.

Three weeks later now and I haven’t cried properly yet, I’m frozen. I think I have put up a wall to protect myself, as I just can’t deal with the reality of mum dying, I can’t cope with it. I understand trauma a little and know this is just my body looking after my mind but I want my mind back. No, that’s not right, I’m in denial and what I really want is my mum back.