I am different now. I tread carefully. Hushed. Afraid to wake her from her big sleep. For she is asleep. I have seen her. I have twisted the wedding ring around her finger and straightened the cross she is wearing around her neck. She was always tired and now I see that sleep has taken her and cannot let her go.
When I was pregnant with Finley I was consumed by this invisible child inside me. I did not know him. Could not imagine who he would be but the journey to Motherhood was an all-encompassing one. Though I moved through my days doing everything that had to be done, those nine months were other-worldly. All animation suspended as I, like all the Mothers before me brought a life in to being. That my Mum’s death should have parallels to my son’s birth has astonished me. Though my belly is full not with a child, but with the persistent flutter of grief, the sensation is eerily similar. As if I have been consumed by her as I was with Finley. Though I do not need to lose hours lost in wondering who she was, the way I wondered who he would be, I am full of her. Full of the same yearning. For him to arrive and for her to come back.
Her death now though has become a fact. There is no longer any sense of dis-belief. She is gone. I feel the weight of grief upon my shoulders and I am allowing it to slow me down. But I cannot cry. I worry that it is making me look cold: as if I have pulled on sorrow’s coat but have chosen to accessorise it with a clown’s mask. I am in fact bizarrely jolly in a way that must I think, seem quite inappropriate. While the rest of the family seep tears in front of all those the infrastructure of our society provides to see us through the horror of burying a loved one, I beam at them, smiling as I nod at at all that they say and reassure them that all is quite well and their help is so very much appreciated, and I cannot thank them enough and I laugh loudly and get my head stuck in my jumper in the funeral parlour and tell the sleeping soul that is my mum jokes about the baby and the dog as I stroke her face and wonder out loud at how kind death is to the dead and how it is possible that she should be lying there looking twenty years younger and equally as beautiful as the very last time I saw her.
I am practical and efficient. Calm and comical at turn. Where I once considered myself to be sentimental I am now astonished to note that objects have no meaning to me. I do not weep over the clothes so treasured that still hang in her wardrobe or find pathos in the unfinished jumper in her knitting bag. I did not sob as I sat alone, registering my Mothers death with the same woman who once registered the marriage I did not have. I do not find meaning in everything she touched at home, nor feel precious about all that she once owned. I do not cry over her, but if I was capable, if only someone would turn the tap on, I would cry for her. Because it simply isn’t fair that she isn’t here. It isn’t ok that she has left us to go on without her.
I had not anticipated this kind of quiet rage. In fact there is so very much about my Mum’s death I had not expected. I am irritated by the living. Cross with those who still have their Mums. Outraged by the cheek of those Mothers with the nerve to still be alive when mine is gone! And then there is the urge to tell everyone I meet. For I cannot abide the world going on without knowing that she isn’t in it any more. That the world is a lesser place without her.
Death then, isn’t the way I feared it was. It is darker and more beautiful. Even missing her is not what I imagined it would be. It is not the primitive visceral terror of the child not in your eye-line. But something far more complicated, and wildly exasperated by the energy of the dead still pulsing in your own veins. Where once she was beyond me, now she exists inside of me.
In the words of E.E.Cummings, I carry her heart with me (I carry it in my heart).
Death is nothing at all. It really is nothing at all.