Friday, 14 September 2012

Requiescat in pace

We were out on the water when it happened, battling strong winds and wayward tides, trying to negotiate the sandbanks at the mouth of the river so we could sail the boat back to our home port. Daunted by the size of the waves and the hostile conditions as we headed out to sea, we turned back, making for the charming riverside town two hours upriver where we planned to spend another night, try again tomorrow.

There were three missed calls on my mobile when I went down below to change out of my foul weather gear and fear gripped my heart.  Something was wrong. My sister broke the sad news that she was gone, her heart had failed and she was lost to us.  My lovely mother.


I cannot yet even begin to comprehend my loss or work out how to live in a world where she is not. She has been part of my story all my life, her life entwined with mine and somehow in all the busyness of life, all the additional responsibilities of the last year since her health deteriorated so rapidly, I never really thought about this.  I was too busy living to think about dying.


She had a beautiful Requiem Mass early one morning at the little church on the green beside the river in the market town nearby.  She would have loved the service, the music, the flowers, having so many members of her family come to bid her farewell, as well as the love and laughter that flowed afterwards as we all sat down for lunch before heading back to our various lives.  


And yet, in some small corner of my mind, I still think that if I got into the car, drove the 10 miles cross-country to the Nursing Home where she spent her final contented months, greeted the staff, climbed the stairs, opened the door to her room, she would still be there to welcome me with a delighted smile, a big hug and a kiss, that I would coax her out into the garden to sit in the dappled shade of the old magnolia tree and share a cup of tea with her again.


 It was, in truth, as she would have wanted it; a quick, sudden ending.  She was spared more slow deterioration, the deepening of her dementia, the continuing failure of her body.  She was a good woman and very dear to us.  She will be much missed.  




"Few have maps and fewer still know which bright star might carry them home"