This isn’t going to be a cheery post, if you’re feeling a bit blue you might want to look away now. I’ve just watched Eastenders and found myself needing to get this out of my brain before it drags me down into the depths again.
Not many people know this but my Mum died at home, in the master bedroom of the house she’d grown up in, with all of us in the house desperately praying that everything was going to be okay and that death wasn’t about to pay us a visit.
The thing I remember most vividly is my elder brother and I sat downstairs at the kitchen table listening to the noise of the paramedics working their hardest to save her life when it came, the crushing silence that signalled the end. I remember Big G looking up at me and saying ‘That’s it then’ before overhearing my Dad being told not to rush to the Hospital. Then we were faced with the moment the paramedics brought her body downstairs and out of the house – I was still hoping that someone was going to tell me that actually she wasn’t dead she was just sleeping, tired from being poorly. We drove to the Hospital slowly, all knowing that nothing was going to be the same again and then when we got there were ushered in to the relatives room where, with the door open and the entire waiting room listening in we heard those immortal words, ‘I’m sorry, we did everything we could’.
It never occurred to me not to go and see her, laid out in a quiet corner of the recovery room. I’d never seen a dead body before but knew that I couldn’t allow my fear to show through, I had to be strong. I remember talking to her, telling her how much she was loved and how proud we were going to make her before giving her a kiss goodbye and starting to try and fathom what had just happened.
I never felt the same way about the house after that, I didn’t go home from the hospital as I couldn’t face being there, I was scared of my childhood home. I was taken in by some wonderful friends who dropped everything and came to get me, enveloping me in love, structure and support to get me through the early days. I now regret my decision not to go home with my Dad and my Brother as in years since I have wondered if it caused a bit of a rift, it feels like we should have grieved together and instead I retreated into the arms of friends and didn’t see my family for days on end. When I did go home I was scared of going upstairs, I’d race up the stairs and try desperately not to even look at the door of Mum and Dad’s room in case, well I don’t know what I thought might happen but I just couldn’t do it. I stayed out of the room for weeks until one day I made my darling Dad escort me upstairs, squeezing my hand the entire time to face my demons. My Mum had such an overt bubbly personality, she was so full of life, that to go in to her bedroom knowing she’d never be there again made it a cold and hard place to be.
Dad hadn’t tidied up and I wept as I found the ECG print out on their sofa, it showed the exact moment that Mum’s heart stopped and she physically left us. Part of me wanted to keep the print out, keep the pads that had been stuck to her chest, the blanket that had been discarded but I knew deep down that it wasn’t healthy. Mum’s room stayed exactly as it had been the moment she died for years, I think we were all too scared to sort through her things because it would be acknowledging the fact that she had gone. Her clothes, her jewellery, even her makeup stayed exactly as it she had left it that morning. It’s now twelve years on since she died and I still have her makeup exactly as it always was in her pink makeup bag which I open sometimes and look through, touch and smell, wanting to be close to her.
I get scared now sometimes because my memories are fading which seems so cruel because anyone who knew her would tell you, she was larger than life, overflowing with vim and vigour and yet here I am, unable to hear her voice anymore, feeling little memories slip out of my mind as I get older. I wish I could go back in time and document every little thing about her, ask all the questions that I always wanted to ask but never got time for, to hear about her childhood, her teenage years, the loves and losses of her life. In short, I wish I had more time to know her.