Last night, I sat with mum, in the dark beside her bed, and just held her hand. It was 7.00 pm and it was quiet as most of the residents were either up in front of the telly in the common room or heading off to bed. The carers were huddled around the door to the nursing station chatting. The crazy day I had had, melted off me and for the first time I felt calm. I asked mum if she was sick of it all and she said yes. Then I told her she had done a great job and she said yes. I told her about my day and then, about 7.30, I took my leave.
When I got home there was a beautiful bunch of flowers on the table. A gift from my sister who can’t be here now but who shares the ups and downs of mum’s death with my via Messenger and Face Time.
This morning Facebook shared a memory with me. It was of the sale of my house in Melbourne four years ago. I always associate that day, not with the very public end of my marriage but with the day, early in mum’s Alzheimers diagnosis, that we fell out over a conversation about Oklahoma. For two years after that, mum would have nothing to do with me. She shut me out and all I could do was look on at her very quick decline into memory loss and confusion.
Then my friend’s post of her trip to Italy came up on my Facebook news feed. I am meant to be flying out tonight to meet her in Venice but I have cancelled the trip. She posted pictures of Giotto’s ground breaking frescoes in Padua
We planned to take the train to Padua early next week. These frescoes were the beginning of my awakening to beauty and the power of art. I was so looking forward to seeing them again.
I am overwhelmed by what I think must be grief. When I talk about mum, I tell people she is the process of dying. It somehow makes it feel better: it is somehow connected to the process of giving birth. I have never experienced an emotion like the one that stops me in my tracks now. If I try to pin it down, it is like longing but it hurts.