On the 19th November it was 5 years since Mum passed away.
I wasn’t able to follow my usual routine of placing a rosebud at the site of the accident on the highway and then at the memorial garden in the cemetery this year. Instead I was hours away visiting a friend on the anniversary of her death, and somehow it seemed pointless to do those things either earlier or later than the actual day.
Time really is a healer. I said last year that I felt the rawness of pain of her death had faded and that process has continued over this year. I still miss her dreadfully and I still long to have a few minutes with her to hug her and feel her hug me back.I wish she could meet her great grandchildren, I wish I could share the highlights and lows of my life with her. I wish I could ask her for help to make things. I wish I could ……. so many things.
I still see her in my mind’s eye and can even feel the last hug she gave me sometimes.
I’m not forgetting her.
But death is a natural part of life….. here in the west it seems like we somehow think we can escape it and are surprised and horrified when it comes. Not that I’m not saying that my family and I weren’t distraught at her sudden and unexpected death. There was no chance to say goodbye….. no warning…. it came out of the blue and decimated us. As a Christian I don’t fear death itself ( I freely admit I fear the process though). However it is something that we will all need to face.
I do not want to trivialize the feelings of those who have lost loved ones and never get over it. Please don’t think I am, but we are not meant for our lives to stop when that happens. I believe it is such a tragedy when someone grieves so hard and long that they give up on the rest of their life and shut out everyone else around them. Is that what the loved one who passed would want?
Our earthly lives are finite and we must accept that and not waste the ‘span of our years’ . There are no guarantees as to how long we will have….that is why it’s so important to make the most of it and enjoy each moment (well maybe not every moment-there are many that I certainly haven’t enjoyed! ). I know Mum enjoyed most of her moments. She loved Dad and us. She loved to travel. She had many friends and was involved in many interest groups. She helped others often and was trying new things. In short she was making the most of her life.
This 5 year mark seems to be an important point in my grief. I will never stop missing her and loving her but the buffer of time is now between the grief and my life.
8 days ago it was 4 years since Mum’s death. I’ve been wanting to write this post since then but found it difficult to actually sit down and write about it. What can I say as I chronicle how I’m feeling this far down the track?
A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Sue Welsh who is currently doing a doctorate on roadside memorials so I got to talk through what happened and my feelings about pretty much everything connected with her death both previously and now – so in some ways I thought it would be easier on the day as I had already had a time of reflection.
I guess I was thinking that it would be a sad day but that it wouldn’t be as emotional this year. The day followed the pattern I have set (except for last year when I was in hospital and hardly even aware of it) In the morning I picked a beautiful pink rosebud from a friends garden and drove out to the place that she died. I parked the car and as I got out to place it I suddenly found myself overwhelmed by a huge sense of loss. Tears welled as I cried out to her how much I missed her, how much I wanted a hug, how much I wanted her comfort with all the things that are overwhelming me. After a few minutes I was able to return to the car and I got back in and prepared to drive to the cemetery to lay the other rose that I had picked. I had attached a card to this one and after a great deal of thought I had written the words ‘ We’ll never stop missing you Mum” on it and signed it from my brother, my sister and myself. When I got to the cemetery I placed it on her grave and then took a flower from the crimson carpet rose that Dad has planted there and went home.
Talking to Sue made me realise that I felt a much greater sense of connection with Mum at the site of her death rather than at the cemetery. I guess it’s because that is where her soul left her body…. the last point of connection with HER, not her mortal remains. 8 days ago I also realised that in a sense my grief now is a very selfish thing. The shock is gone now, the emotions aren’t as raw. What I am left with now is how her death has affected ME.
There is also the sadness that she hasn’t got to meet and know the great-grandchildren that she would have loved so much and they haven’t got to know her. I grieve for my father who while getting on with living his life fully never stops missing and aching for her. I know my siblings miss her as do her grandchildren….so I guess I’m not being totally self-centred here but my main emotions are still to do with ME-my loss,my needs.
Does it sound crazy to say that before I missed her presence more but now I miss her comfort and love more? I think guilt is an ongoing part of my grief now too… I am so aware of the times I wasn’t there for her. The times when I know she was hurt because weeks went by without me even thinking to call her. The knowledge that she probably felt unloved by me at times….. guilt for my self absorption and lack of thoughtfulness. And yet this is a fairly normal part of life that most parents have to face as their children are making their own lives in the world.
I suspect that as the years go by that even though it will always be a sad day that I will probably be less affected emotionally. I guess I need to think about why I miss her so much…. it was because she was a good and loving mother who while not perfect did her best.
I love you Mum
It’s 2 years today since Mum died. So much has changed in that time and yet the grief stays the same….not as raw perhaps although at times it still overwhelms me, but those times are further apart these days. In fact there are whole weeks now when I barely think of her…. does that make me a bad daughter? I don’t think so …. It just means life continues…. it doesn’t mean I love her any less.
I can drive past the place she died now without crying. Just as well really as anytime I have to go to Sydney or to Nowra I have to pass it. Today I’m going out there to leave a rose…. a pink rose for Margaret Rose.
I sometimes still feel a crazy kind of resentment that she isn’t here when I feel like I needed her most after my marriage broke up and I came to live with Dad. My adult mind knows how silly it is at 57 feeling like an abandoned child because I want my Mummy to hold me and make it better.
I’m sad too cause I understand so much better now about how she felt when we moved so far away …..and I also understand how hurt she felt when I was too busy or didn’t think to call her regularly to chat and tell her about what was happening in our lives. Now I’m the mother so far away who longs to hear from her kids and to know they care about her and hear about their lives. If only I could go back and change things.
I feel helpless today with Dad too… I want to comfort him and yet don’t know what to say or do and feel like a clumsy oaf. He is surrounded by a wall of grief and I don’t think that I can do anything to ease it….. how can I when he’s lost the wife he shared so many years with and that he misses so desperately?
I also feel so sad for my friend Monica who was found dead in her home a couple of days ago- there are crimestoppers bulletins on the news channels asking for anyone to come forward with any information as her death is considered ‘suspicious’. I was supposed to be working out with her how we could do some kids workshops together…. How can she be dead in suspicious circumstances? How can one of the few people I count as friends down here be gone? When she wasn’t at church last week I was going to ring her and then when she wasn’t at scrapbooking on Tues night I was going to ring her…. But once again I didn’t listen to the voice telling me to do something and now it’s too late. I’ve been told that it was probably too late to ring her anyway… that she was probably already gone but it doesn’t assuage the guilt I feel.
My Bible reading the other day was from 2 Corinthians 5 and the commentary said
‘Our lives are so frail and vulnerable. We walk through life always on the thin ice of our mortality and who knows when it will crack beneath us. As you can see from this section of 2 Corinthians Paul lived with a strong consciousness of death. He did not fear death but was always was aware of it……….. Jesus came to conquer death. Through His victory we can now face death not as the end of togetherness but as the beginning of eternal togetherness.” Another one of those ‘coincidences’ that so often occur when you’re a Christian!
I know that both Mum and Monica were Christians and are now with the Lord … that is truly comforting to know. I don’t have to feel the desperation of those who don’t KNOW that this is not the end. I am also so grateful for the love and comfort I receive from my Lord. It doesn’t mean though that I don’t go through the grief and the questionings…..I guess it just means that I don’t have to stay there.