My Mum died a little over six months ago.
There. I said it.
But it still seems surreal.
I had occasion, last night, to seek mum’s guidance. And I’m not talking about a ‘what should I wear’ situation. I needed some heavy-duty Mother-to-daughter advice. It’s the first time, since she died, that I felt her loss so markedly.
When Dad and I received Mum’s diagnosis and prognosis, a scant ten or eleven weeks prior to her passing, I immediately switched into ‘let’s just get on with this’ mode. And while friends and other family members around me were questioning the universal justice (or lack thereof) of the situation, I was busily ensuring Mum received adequate care, monitored her medications, facilitated her getting home for palliative care. I moved, with my two younger children, interstate. Back home. To wash dad’s underdacks. To cook. To keep a hand in Dad’s business so he could spend each precious minute by Mum’s side. And after Mum passed, I stayed on to help Dad and my beautiful brother tie up as many loose ends as could be tied. At the start of this year, I moved back to Adelaide.
People would ask: “How are you doing?” “Have you had a chance to cry yet?” “Is there something I can do for you?” “What can I do to support you during this time?”
And, until recently, I’ve not had any answers for them other than: Ok. No. Not that I’m aware of. Look in on my Dad for me when I’m back interstate.
My initial pragmatism, manifested as a means of dealing with the nightmarish dilemma, gave way to the numbness and routine of ‘survivalism’ when I got back to Adelaide. At first it was a vague sense of unease. Nothing I could pinpoint. So I tried to keep myself busy in an attempt to stave off what I now see as inevitable. But things became more difficult. I found myself avoiding people. I deliberately took to arriving at school with only enough time to collect or drop off – thereby escaping the necessity to speak to the other parents. I stayed away from public transport.
And then, things started to unravel. Internally.
I found myself in the unusual scenario of not having an adequate enough vocabulary to articulate the process unfolding within. I still don’t. And it scares me. Confuses me. Frustrates me. It confounds my ability to compartmentalise.
I find tears, randomly leaking out of my eyes. Tracking a course across my cheeks. Dripping onto my waiting lap below. My chin quivers with uncertainty. I close my eyelids to clear my vision. Take a deep breath. Recentre. And I’m nearly ok. But then another tear magically, surfaces – welling until it, too, rolls free to follow the path of the ones before.
And so, I discovered – last night – that I desperately needed the comfort, advice, guidance and support that only a mother can give her daughter. It wasn’t there. SHE wasn’t there. And it was then, that I knew. Know.
I know that I miss my Mum. My amazing, gorgeous, brilliant, quiet, wise, peaceful Mum. The woman who carried me in her womb. Who prayed for me, daily, before I was even born. She nursed me at her breast. Watched over me. Taught me. Disciplined me. Blessed me. Befriended me. She prepared me for life at a Christian Woman in an unChristian world. And she continued to guide me along my path (even when I didn’t realise I needed it).
I miss her. I feel her absence. I’m overcome. Undone.
And so now, the individual tears have become a torrent.
“In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well…If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously…Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them…When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them…Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”
Romans 15:6-10, 13 New Living Translation