Seven years ago tomorrow

Tomorrow will be the 7th anniversary of my mum’s death. It might have slipped my mind altogether had someone not reminded me yesterday, but I’m glad to remember.

It’s a time still vivid in my life. I remember taking the call at about 6am. It wasn’t a surprise, but it still came as a shock. There was nothing I could do at that time of day – it was a Saturday also – but I couldn’t go back to sleep. I remember it hit me about five minutes later, the whole enormity of it – my mum is gone from my life forever. Suddenly, for the first time in your life, you inhabit a world in which she no longer exists.

Eventually made myself coffee and, as soon as a civilised hour approached, began making calls. I called family and friends and all those who loved mum. Much as with me, there was no surprise but much sadness, though there were some who expressed relief that her suffering was over. I was very focused throughout this. I slipped into a professional persona. It was hard at times standing there listening to the grief at the other end of the phone, but I remained composed.

I called the funeral director then, and at some time – probably days later, began the ring around for other matters related to her funeral to come such as catering and cleaning and flowers and so on. Around lunchtime the funeral director arrived to confirm details.

I don’t remember the afternoon at all. It seemed a very quiet day. Still and silent, like you hear a clock ticking.

In the evening Donna came round to support me – no sign of my sister throughout this – and we went to dinner at a local Thai restaurant. I remember then feeling utterly drained and quite lost. I was glad to have someone there with me.

A few days later was the funeral. I remember, I split my pants not long before the ceremony and there was no time to do anything but staple up the split and hope no-one noticed. It was fine at the church, though I recall choking up as people came up to me before the ceremony outside to express their sympathy. The ceremony began and a few of us spoke up for mum, my stepsister, my niece, and I gave a eulogy recalling mum as she was. It was all fine until the minister mum had asked to speak for her instead rabbited on about god. We sat there listening becoming quietly angry at what seemed a betrayal. It was done though, and later I thanked him and gave him a bottle of some unusual fortified spirit he liked I’d had to hunt down.

The wake was at mum’s home next door to the church. It was my home at the time also. There was big crowd there – mum was much loved, and I was gratified that a number of my friends had made the effort to attend in support of me.

I remember for the first hour or so circulating through the crowd as mum would have once, making sure I touched base with as many people as possible and checking that everything was going well. I think someone – I can’t remember who – told me to take a break and time for myself after that, and I did that gratefully. I sat with my friends. We talked and laughed and remembered. We drank the beer and wine, and later we ordered in pizzas. Later, I think, I began to feel it, like something that has been held back because there were things to do. It was a quiet thing, a settling in me, something private. So that was that.

That’s how I remember that day.

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