My mother died on May 5th. The unknown illness that had been hassling her for a few weeks? Lung cancer. The double vision that started up after all the other whacked out symptoms had been bugging her? Brain metastases. Fuck and fuck.
It all happened way too fast. Sure, she was sick but…just….fuck. Once the diagnosis finally came it just spiralled out like a crazy carnival ride gone bad. Lost bearings? Check. Sick to your stomach? Check. Feelings of helplessness and needing to continue screaming loudly? Check.
So fast, and, as they say she “didn’t suffer” she “wasn’t in any pain”. For that, of course, I am grateful. The hospital staff were wonderful, they kept her comfortable as soon as my brother and I said “please, no more” to interventions and tests and all that.
I lost my dad nearly 7 years ago, and at the time I said to my mum “you need to give me 10 years, at least”. And she told we she’d do her best. So am I angry she wasn’t able to? Yes. Am I angry at her? No. I’m just angry. And sad, and bitter and lost and devastated, depressed and lonely. All of those feelings and more. For me, for my brother, for my children and for her friends. She was amazing. And now she’s gone and it fucking hurts.
But here’s something.
On the night she died my brother and his wife and mum’s very close friend kept a vigil. We knew it wasn’t going to be long, but I had to go and see The Musician in his very first concert in the junior band as their bass player. I told her I was leaving for a bit, but I’d be back. I know she heard me because part way back to the hospital I noticed I’d missed a call. I called my mum’s friend and she let me know that mum’s breathing had changed and it was getting close. I hauled ass, as you can imagine, and made it. Just. As I came in the room I started talking to her – about the concert, how well The Musician had done, about how much I loved her, about how The Artist was asking about her and wanted her to know he loved her. And she lifted her head, she knew. And after a few more breaths, she died.
I have heard of things like that happening. That people will wait, sometimes for days, for the people they love. I am grateful I was there, and I continue to be grateful that she didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes for me.
I told The Genealogist “if I hadn’t made it back in time, I would have been so, so guilty” and he said “I know. And your mother knew that too. And that’s why she waited, because she knew you’d feel guilty and then she’d feel guilty for all eternity, knowing that she’d made you feel guilty.” And that pretty much sums it up right there.
The mother-daughter relationship is a special one. It is also – or at least it can be – a complex one. Mine was both special and complex, and the loss I am feeling right now is so fierce inside it threatens to eat me alive. But it won’t. Partly because I won’t let it, and partly because my mother wouldn’t want it to, she’d feel terrible. Again with the guilt.
I am pleased to say that I have no regrets. There are no “I wish I’d….” or “I wish I hadn’t…” There are just memories, and special times and laughs and so, so much love. There is also a very big hole in my heart, but I know, given time, that it will heal. The hole my father left healed, and left a scar. I think my heart is strong enough for another hole and another scar.
But please, whoever is in charge of this shit, no more. Give me my ten years. At least.