There are things no-one tell you about death. They do not tell you how still it makes you inside. They do not tell you how it will feel to hold your beautiful Mum’s face in your hands, while you try to ignore how unnatural it feels to touch such ice-cold flesh. They do not say that the blood will pool under her skin. That she will still be smiling even after death. They do not say that the man who guides you in to the chapel of rest the following day will cry silent tears with you and the policeman sent to see you and your Dad in hospital will be clumsy and stupid as he tries to establish the cause of the bruise on her neck where those stern paramedics pumped adrenaline into her veins as she lay dying, or perhaps already gone, on her own bedroom floor.
For it is true. My Mum has gone. My Mum has gone. My Mum has gone. My Mum has gone.
I want to write it in the sky. I want to scream NO at the top of my voice. I want to tell each stranger I see in the street. To tell them how very unfair it is that we are alive and she is not. But I have had to tell so many people. Delivered nightmarish phone-calls to my own sister and my Mum’s sister. I have sat in my Mum’s conservatory listening to her hairdresser (of all people) shout NO into the phone. Over and over again. I have told her friends and when they became inconsolable, calmly asked to speak to their husbands and instead, explained what happened, to them.
I don’t know why I am writing today. I wasn’t sure I could. I was scared she might have taken my words with her. But even though as I type, real tears are finally flowing, this is what I needed to do today because I know no other way to pour out my grief. To make sense of something so utterly ridiculous. I know no other way because the only alternative is to phone her and I can’t be sure she will take my call in heaven. The only alternative to writing is to call her and tell her my head hurts, that I have slept with Dad in her living room for the past two nights, both of us taking a sofa each. That he has whimpered in his sleep and he is worried about never understanding the washing machine. There is still so much to say you see? Children to be grown without her guiding hand. Thank you’s to be whispered over and over again. A garden she didn’t get to enjoy because Summer didn’t come soon enough.
I am scared to miss her. I do not know whether to be angry. I am so very wide awake. And Finley. My little boy. A boy who could not leave the room without giving his Nana the seven kisses she always demanded of him. When I told him, in the early evening of the day she died that she was gone, he put his hands over his ears for a moment and then told me that he needed to get back to playing with Eleanor and that my darling Kath had made him sausages for his tea and he wanted to eat them before we went to stand in the midst of my entire family, grouped together in her kitchen without our beating heart.
I am scared to be without her. This is the first blog post I have ever written that she will not read. I do not know what words will flow out of me in all my tomorrows without her presence to censor everything that is ridiculous about me. I do not know if the sight of her on her bedroom floor will ever leave me. Her eyes wide open. Whether it was right to tell the man at the hospital not to wash her freshly blown hair because she wouldn’t like it if it was frizzy. That we wouldn’t recognise her and that for all the days in-between her death and her burial, Dad and I will go and stroke her face and tell her stories and that while we are doing that, we need to still recognise her. To still be able to find her under her red velvet blanket.
This then is a love story. Like all the women in her family before, my Mum has died in her early sixties. (Stolen. Kidnapped. Taken). Still so very beautiful. For only the very, very beautiful die young don’t they? She was, as you know, both my best friend and my fiercest critic. She was everything I am and so many wonderful things I am not. She was my Fridays. My partner in crime. My closest confidante. My most feared opponent. She was my good morning and my goodnight.
My Mum is gone. My Mum. Italics are not enough to make it clear how absolutely ludicrous that sentence feels to me.
Night night Momma. No-one will ever again love me like you did and I will never again love with same fury, certainty and gratitude.