This day, a decade previously

Posted: January 13, 2015 in Personal
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Ten years ago today I woke up to an unsettling series of noises. Sometimes one can be roused entirely discombobulated and take many seconds to acquaint themselves with realities like their day and location, but I almost felt like a spy woken from his refuge in the cargo hold of a particularly dodgy vessel by the sound of approaching enemy footsteps. Instinct immediately told me something was disastrously wrong, and I blundered out of my bedroom to confirm my worst fears.

Before my eyes, my mother was dying. Not in the fairytale ‘went to sleep and never woke up’, nor in the familiar heavily-tranquillised decline surrounded by tubes and machines in a hospital or care home bed. She was dying on her feet, in the kind of anguish I would have suffered any torture to avoid being inflicted upon her. Her eyes wore the dazed and haunted expression of a deer staggering away from being smashed into by a Land Rover. I was seized by blind panic. I knew what was coming, even if I didn’t want to accept it.

I don’t remember much else besides that last, horrible eye contact, until the ambulance arrived. Wishing beyond hope the emergency services could work some magic, I could see the ambulance shaking outside and understood the gravity of the situation. By the time we had followed the ambulance to its destination, the words you can’t ever imagining reacting to were uttered to me, and I remember not being able to control my emotions for a long time.

I remember reading a common quote from people who had lost their matriarch, comparing it to a light going out, and it’s strange how well that fits. It’s as if the previously dazzling sunshine is now perennially overcast. I remember being a little more fearless in my pursuits for at least a few months after the event, as I figured I had seen my worst nightmare and nothing could possibly feel worse, but then this alien future became the new cold, hostile present.

Even a decade on, having accomplished a lot more in this period than at any point while she was here, the world still has a gloom that won’t lift. High points still don’t mean as much or last as long. Wondering how that person would react to your triumphs, or see you through your disasters torments you. Meeting other people’s mothers makes you a little resentful.

There are a few positives, if I could call them positive. I’m glad she didn’t see what the world is descending into, or lose her marbles or worse.

There is a school of thought that suggests that time heals all wounds, and when somebody brings up your parents and you mention one is deceased, they are sombre but not nearly as apologetic as if it had happened the day before. In my experience, there is a raw grieving process which means that you are an entirely different person between the day after to a year after the event, but to my mind the further you then get away in time, the worse it gets. Worse because people forget the details. Worse because new characters that aren’t that person attempt to fill the void. Worse because life does continue ceaselessly without respect.

Life doesn’t really feel better a decade on, it just feels different.

  1. Curlydaz says:

    I too went through something similar with both my parents. What I find is time does nothing, it is inconsequential to the grieving process. Because grieving for someone who meant so much to you goes on forever. I like the analogy of a light going out. But I prefer to say that before I lost them, my life was in full colour. And now, even at the times when I should be most full of joy, it is still, and always will be, black and white.
    In a past blog I mentioned that whoever said time is a healer, lied. It heals nothing. Time takes a cast iron wrecking ball and heals us to smithereens.

    The fact that we miss them so much is a good thing though. It means they were loved and still are. The pain means that they existed. That they mattered. And all that love and life we shared will carry us through.
    Your words meant alot to me. Truly. Thanks for sharing. Here’s to the next decade.

  2. Thanks for your kind words. Your colour analogy struck a chord too. Good to meet you!

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