My Mom has left us forever. She was tired of waiting for us to come visit, tired of time passing, tired of what she couldn’t do anymore…
You don’t need to read on. You don’t need to comment or do anything.
I’m putting these words out, as I don’t want to bother anyone with this. I have a partner, family, friends… yet I don’t want to talk to them about my struggles. They have been there for me, they shed a tear or two with me. They have now moved on and are continuing with their lives. I do not blame them. Part of me probably envy them as I am stuck with unbearable feelings which, I’m afraid, will last far longer than they should.
Again, do not read on, as I’m writing these words mostly for myself. I wish to be able to remember and yet to forget. I wish to have something to go back to when I’ll feel the need but at the moment, I just wish to move on. I write these words with hopes of healing. Despite my wishes, writing isn’t soothing at the moment, writing is excruciatingly painful. I am still hoping it will help me cope, help me recover a little, help me understand the overwhelming feelings I have.
It was a beautiful Autumn afternoon when my brother called. I wasn’t surprised, I had dreaded this call, I knew it would come … it still hit me like a thousand pounds rock.
“She’s gone” … silence… “OK, thanks for calling. We’ll be there tomorrow”
The shortest possible conversation in these circumstances. What else are you supposed to say? I still have no clue. Yet, in that moment, a piece of me already knew this was just the start of a long period where I would be completely and utterly clueless and would still have to take the most inconceivable decisions.
We drank more than a glass that evening, went to bed very late as sleep didn’t feel like a possible escape from this reality.
Little things like packing my suitcase were hard. Choosing the appropriate black dress and the appropriate shoes while thinking “this one is too short”, “this is too fancy”, “I don’t want to look like a slut”. Remembering the last big Birthday we celebrated where I wore this one… Stupid thoughts and fu..ing tears. Just stop flowing already, I can’t see a thing.
We hit the road and drove mostly in silence. There was no mundane conversation I could stand, talking about her was too difficult. Thoughts about her were fragmented. She was not my best friends, she was not a confident. When I was young, some of my girlfriends spoke about their moms in such words. Not me. I was a bit envious. Later on, I realized she was my Mom and that was a big enough title. She did not need to be these other things. Despite being tiny, she was a rock, a matriarch, respected, feared and loved.
When we arrived at my parents’ place, there were bags lying around in the living room and the suitcase I had carefully packed a week before, and that my Dad and I had taken to the retirement home. The chair she used to sit in was empty.
Reality hit me there. Emptiness is all that is left.
That’s when my brain switched into organization mode.
I could see in my Dad’s eyes that this suitcase next to her chair was killing him. I started unpacking, organizing things, cleaning.
This is good, I thought. I can do this. I can cope. I’m going to be OK… Oh…little did I know that the pain would come haunting my sleepless nights. Little did I know that unstoppable sobbing would come at any time but especially when less expected.
The whole week before the funeral felt like an eternity of nothingness filled with unthinkable decisions. I was walking around like a zombie trying to look like I knew what I was doing. I had to. For my Mom, but mostly for my Dad, especially for my Dad. The weeks before her passing had been difficult too. From the hospital to the retirement home, I had to deal with so many things, it had already drained us both.
Yet, there were paper work for the funeral to fill, flowers to choose… Those were somehow the easy decisions. Choosing a coffin and an urn was also easier than I ever thought. On the other end, choosing clothes for her to wear, was probably the hardest thing I had to do in my life. Dad and I chose the last suit she would wear. I prepared the rest, the underwear, the tights, the cardigan she had knitted… We also chose a suit for him. I ironed his shirt. I think he was relieved to know that had been taken care off, no matter how insignificant it might seem.
Then came the organisation of the funeral service. Choose the biblical texts, the music, a poem to be read… But who will read it? I can’t.
And also the memorial service. More music, more texts, more flowers… Crying at every single song I listened to, was draining. Weirdly, I chose the music based on the amount of tears. The most appropriate ones were the ones which hurt the most. They were the ones she loved the most.
People were calling all the time. The days were filled with things to be done. The evenings were quickly there and I dreaded going to bed.
One evening of that week, as I was facing the mirror in the bathroom, I noticed my hand was rubbing my face with night cream. I was looking at myself, yet I couldn’t feel my own skin under my fingers and the skin on my face didn’t feel the touch of my fingers. I was numbed.
Numbed is good. Numbed is better than pain. But the pain would come during the night once more and for the many nights to come.
Somehow, I believe my Mom guided me with some of the decisions that were to be taken. There were the perfect amount of Gerbera daisies for people to put on the coffin as a last goodbye. I found the perfect music for the memorial service, out of her CDs. On one song from Mike Brant, my Mom loved, my aunts started singing and I thought it was the most beautiful thing they could do in that moment. Everything went perfectly smooth.
When the electricity power was cut off during the memorial, we all knew it was her! Most though she wasn’t ready. I knew she sorted this so we wouldn’t have to carry her ashes back. I had told my partner that he was allowed to kill anyone who would try to put her in the trunk, yet I didn’t want my Dad to hold the urn all the way back to the graveyard. I therefore had no clue how to handle this. She sorted the power shortage, I am sure. We didn’t have to carry the urn back as the funeral home brought the urn to the graveyard, the next day.
So the funeral went as planned and it was a beautiful ceremony. Family members came to thank me and somehow congratulate me on the organisation of such day. I’m happy they were there. I’m glad they ‘liked’ it as much as one can like such event. I even recognize how important it is for people to be guided in such difficult moments. Guided into when it is time to pray, when it is time to shed a tear, when it is time to eat… I’m not the only one who lost her, other family members loved her deeply and needed to mourn. But it felt desperately weird to be thanked for organizing something like this. I kept on thinking that funeral planners should be as popular as wedding planners are.
Unfortunately, little did I had realized that death doesn’t stop at the funeral. The week after was just as painfully hard as the week that had preceded. There are all those administrations that you need to inform, from tax to social security, to pension organisms and so forth. The truth of your lost sinks in as you have to face bureaucracy and uncaring people who have to have such and such form. Going through all the paper work kept me busy for another week but felt utterly out of place. Everyone had left and I was there, with my Dad, looking for life insurance policies, the title of the house, bank accounts’ details… a life reduced to serial numbers, references and certificates. I tried so hard to do this carefully and with the utmost respect but somehow it was like when I was little and was going through her wardrobe to find my Christmas presents in advance. I was doing this knowing that she would be mad at me. I felt out of place.
Despite all this, it’s not even over. The notary will take months to sort out the succession and I am dreading the results. Just another thing to worry about or just another thing to keep my mind busy…
As mentioned at the beginning, I am writing this for my self and there is a one more thing I do want to recall of these difficult days:
I want to recall how amazingly insightful my partner has been. He mostly quietly stood by the side of all meetings and saw things I could not see. He brought me comfort or made me laugh with stupid things when most needed. But most of all, he kept me calm and prevented me from lashing out unnecessarily. I could not have gone through this without his advise, at least not as peacefully as I did. Despite our differences and our problems, he was there for me, like he has never been before and I will be eternally grateful.
I am grateful but unfortunately my main emotions are much darker…
I am desperately angry. Angry is the strongest feeling I have right now, if numbness doesn’t count. I am angry because she is gone but mostly, and this is a very selfish thing to say, I am angry because I feel like I was robed. I was robed of this week when instead of mourning, I had to stay strong. I had to play the part. I had to be the queen of organisation. Instead of crying all day, I had to deal with sobbing nights. Instead of being able to think of her, I had to think of everyone else.
There is no one to blame here. I would do it a million times over, to take this out of my Dad’s shoulders, to make sure it isn’t just another funeral. If anyone is to blame it is me for being so picky. I’m guessing I needed to be the queen of organisation, to avoid feeling anything. All those decisions had to be taken by someone and as I wanted to be sure everything was perfect, it had to be me.
But now I feel such anger that anyone can become the unwilling victim of my wrath. Bottled up anger has been my thing for months now, if not years, for various other reasons. It’s been eating me alive, killing my joy. With this additional excess, there is no big enough bottle to contain it. It’s spilling out and I can’t do anything about it.
I am also desperately scared. I am so fu..ing scared to lose my Dad. He is not saying anything, he is not sharing his feelings as he never has. But I know he isn’t ok. How could he be? I know his only thoughts are about joining her. Why should he stay any longer.
I’m blessed that I got to spend 2 weeks with him. My brothers came and went. They’ll be back for an afternoon or a week-end. They will never ever share such a bond with their Dad. They are missing out so much on all he is and all he has to say. I got to stay 2 weeks with him and now I fear these might be the last ones.
Such fear seems at the moment to be what brings me the most pain and the most tears.
Stupid objects suddenly bring back memories of my Mom which always end up with blurry vision and occasional crawling on the floor from the knots in my stomachs, my chest, my throat… I’m not materialistic but objects have now acquired a new status, a treasure status I never thought I would give them.
Yet, some of the memories being so happy, they do not have the same effect as thinking of the day the phone will ring again and the voice will say “He is gone”…