Mums play such a vital role in our lives. When they are suddenly taken from you, it takes some getting used to.
This time last year I had an anxious night’s sleep. Having been in a new job for about 2 months, I was due to give a presentation mid-morning about some proposed changes I wanted to make to the company website. I was nervous, and although I knew what I was going to say I’m just not very confident when it comes to speaking to a room of people.
The conversation, albeit brief, that I’d had with my mum the night before had helped and in her usual supportive way gave me the reminder I needed that I knew what I was talking about!
She was right of course, and the meeting went well, perhaps even better than I’d expected. I left the room and returned to my desk where I saw I’d missed a call from my dad. I called him back jokingly asking if his pocket had dialled me, as had happened once or twice before. He was very quiet and just said: “It’s your mum, they’re trying to resuscitate her.” Calmly I told him not to worry, and I’d check with work and get down to him (in Somerset) as soon as I could.
Walking back to my desk I sat down, with the realisation that I think I’d just lost my mum. Of course the tears began to free fall. People starting coming out of the meeting room I’d just been in. A few commented that it was alright, I’d done a really good job and shouldn’t feel upset. A colleague explained what had just happened. They could not have looked more shocked, probably not dissimilar to the look I had had.
I declined the offer of a lift to get to dad’s and headed off to my car. I called my sister on the way and left a voicemail message, which must have sounded quite bizarre with all the heavy breathing while I ran to the car.
It was the longest shortest drive down the motorway to dad’s. All the way in my head, I was begging God to let her be OK. Come on, she can’t just die now, she has too much spirit and life in her… But then I had the opposite thought, had dad been over-reacting? He was never very good at describing what was going on and of no use in emergency situations. Perhaps I should have spoken to him a bit longer to find out more. Perhaps he didn’t mean resuscitate, surely she must have just fainted. Yes that’s all it will be. But how will I explain that to work. Dashing off like this all for a fainting moment.
For 45 long minutes I prayed and hoped, running all sorts of scenarios through my mind. I came off the motorway and saw an ambulance with it’s blues flashing. “Come on mum,” I said, “hang on in there, we’ll be with you soon and it’ll all be fine.”
No-one could really explain what had happened, it was so quick. One minute she was returning from a walk and crossing the road to talk to a neighbour. The next she fell, trying to grab dad, asking him to hold her. And that was that. Catastrophic heart failure. Literally full of life one minute, then nothing.
Passing nurses and a paramedic eventually did get her heart re-started but it took a very, very long time. She was kept in intensive care initially in a medically induced coma to try to stabilise her, but 2 days later she wouldn’t wake up. Over the following few days we tried everything to wake her.
We played her favourite songs, took in DVDs of her favourite shows and films, we argued and shouted, swore (she hated bad language), told stories from our childhood, and even tried our hand at singing (not good, and seriously if she was going to wake, that would have done it!)
Ultimately a CT scan revealed an hypoxic brain injury so at that point we knew it was unlikely she would ever wake up. We took the decision to turn off all the life support machinery and let nature take it’s course. We had time together as a family to prepare our goodbye.
It was the most difficult thing to do. She was still there and yet gone; the only person who could have helped us deal with everything that was going on, was the one person who was no longer going to be there. She was the glue that held our family together, what would happen now?
Although it was a year ago, there are times like today when my memory of that nightmare week are so vivid, it might as well have been last week. Other times, it feels like it was an eternity ago. The year has gone quickly but has been so long and drawn out.
I still feel mum’s energy around me, which I know sounds odd but I believe now more than ever that our bodies are just our energy hosts for a while and when it’s our time to go it’s only the body that’s worn out, our energy that makes us is boundless and timeless.
So the past year has been a year of adapting to life without mum.
Most of my year, work aside, has been spent supporting my dad who after 50 years of marriage felt and still feels empty. He’s doing well though and is getting out and about. It’s still hard for him to be home alone where there’s no mum to share his day with. He has gone from wanting to sell up and move to an old people’s home to wait for God, to actually living life more fully than I think even he ever thought possible – today he’s even baked a few cakes for a MacMillan Coffee Morning.
In complete contrast he still has his sad moments. This afternoon he’s off to the local funeral directors to pre-arrange his final journey!
I wanted to be there with him this week, and I’ve tried to arrange to do lots of things to keep us busy. But not being sure what he really wants, he’s gong to do his thing; and we will do ours. We will get together over the weekend so on the actual day of mum’s passing we will go to see the Book of Remembrance and reflect on our memories and times we had with the most amazing lady in our life.
Everyone tells me the first year of losing someone close is the toughest, and I couldn’t agree more. It won’t ever get easy, I’m sure of that, but it will, I hope, get more bearable.
Mum, if you are listening in, you really are the wind beneath our wings. I’m sorry you had to go, you are missed like crazy; thank you for all the great memories – we are trying to make more, but it’s never going to quite be the same. I’m even trying to get dad to come on a Spa day, remember the one we had? Just 3 ladies chilling in their white Terry Towelling robes! Loved that day for so many different reasons. Not sure dad will but who knows, I never thought he’d love your Mary Berry cookbook!
Love you mum, always and forever.