Today is Good

Today is a good day, this weekend has been good and that is because I have had to face up to who I am and what is actually happening to me. I got myself bitten by a bug on Friday, it seemed to give me an allergic reaction of sorts, and I have had a cough and flu like symptoms and felt generally unwell since.

I went for a walk around town yesterday with my friend, I felt poorly. She wanted to check out the charity shops for her Pride costume.   I suggested we go into the Martlet’s Hospice, vintage shop, it’s where you might find their special bits and as my friend pointed out, often a little pricier. I walked over to the sales counter and there on the necklace rail was one of my mum’s necklaces. It stopped me in my tracks, like seeing mum there somehow. I looked closer and found there were four of her necklaces hanging there, there was no mistaking mum’s style. I burst into tears and left the shop wiping my eyes as I left, as if it would be all okay if I got away.

I thought back and remembered taking a big bag of her necklaces down to the charity warehouse nine months ago, just after she passed away. As I handed them over I didn’t imagine I would see them again and if I did, quite what the impact would be. They weren’t the best, I kept those and have them hanging around my bedroom. One pearl necklace is wrapped around her ashes on the shelf, mum always wore a necklace, why should that change. Some others went for next to nothing on EBay, I really didn’t know what I was doing in those early days after she left.

I came home yesterday and slept on the sofa for most of the afternoon until I went to bed, I thought if I slept everything would be better, my bug, my emotions, all of me. I cursed that I would get ill on a Saturday, how typical and the sun was shining, I should be out.

Today is Sunday and it is raining hard.   It’s certainly not a day to venture out far, although I went out for the ingredients to make a nut loaf for dinner. Mum used to love my nut roast and I don’t believe I have made one since she died nine months ago. I haven’t baked a cake either, I only started baking in the last couple of years of her life and I haven’t had reason since. I told mum I cooked for her with love and by eating my food she would fill up with all the love I had put inside, whatever it might be.  Anyway I made that nut loaf, it’s sitting on the side for later and it looks perfect.

I have cried a buckets today, I watched ‘Long Lost Families’ where adopted children finally find their families. I have cried an awful lot today, it’s okay I need to and I think I probably need to cry more. I believe I have been in denial in some way, I just rushed ahead thinking if I kept my head full I would be okay.  I wasn’t used to caring for or worrying about me, mum did that.

The weekend Mum died, my stepfather had a heart attack and they discovered cancer in his throat. I collected him from the hospital and brought him home to live with me.  We attended mum’s funeral together, that was before he declined too much and needed her wheelchair. Everything was so busy, clearing mums flat, arranging the funeral and looking after Bill that I really didn’t have time to grieve properly. Then on December 28th, Bill died with my sister and I sitting next to him, trying to help. He had been happy with me, he was looking forward to the summer, but we knew all along it wouldn’t be long. His purpose disappeared after mum died, I think that the cancer just masked his broken heart. Then it was Bill’s funeral to arrange and I had to find work again. I hadn’t worked in nearly two years, caring for mum and Bill so I was in trouble financially. I put my head down and carried on with my life.

I talk to mum and Bill all the time, their pictures and memories surround me in my home, I am cluttered with them and I have never been cluttered before. There isn’t a day I don’t think about them, but I manage these feelings. There ashes sit side by side on my bedroom shelf, him with a tartan ribbon and mum with her pearls. I don’t think it morbid, it is comfortable, I am not ready to let them go yet, I will one day, I’m just not sure when.  Most of the time I forget they are there, well their not really.

I have been filling my life with nothingness for the last nine months, I have been trying to carry on, while at the same time feeling ashamed of myself for doing so well.   I have been filling the empty gaps so everything will be okay. My food cupboards and fridge are ridiculous, I constantly buy food and then throw it away. If I didn’t buy food for six months, I don’t think I would go hungry. I forever need new clothes and shoes and weekends away. I don’t say no often either, I’m always free to lend a hand, listen to a problem, keep someone company, no problem, of course!

I complain about being too tired to think, too tired to care, I feel more to the point. I think I have lost my passion, dropped it somewhere maybe. I work but have no interest really in what I do anymore, it is just a means to an end. I think I have lost the essence of me, who I am, I think I’m wrapped up in grief and denial.

So today is a good day, because it rained, because it slowed me down and because I cried. I know everyone grieves differently, I have been trying to grieve without grieving. I thought somehow, that if I carried on, it would just get better. I’m going to give myself more time like today, I’m going to face my feelings and give myself time. Today is a good day because I realised that my feelings won’t go away if I ignore them, they will get easier but I am denying myself if I don’t acknowledge the hurt I feel now. If I were to carry on like that I think I would be doing myself an awful disservice.

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.