Watching her mothers last breath was surreal. A moment locked in time til the end of her own days.
She stood there at her bed side unsure of what was actually happening. Was this it? Was she witnessing a woman leaving this earth?
Standing alone with her mother the wall stood tall between them. Wide and thick. Numbing the air with its vastness.
Her life flashed through her mind in that instant trying to latch on to something with meaning. Each decade of her life unable to bring anything good to the surface. There must be something though? Isn’t there? This can’t be all there is between them? A sense of grievance and suffering.
She felt lost and unsettled. Uncertain as to how she should proceed with what was before her. No one can prepare you for such a moment.
Her world felt suspended as her mothers moved on. No time left for words. No time to go back. No time to change it all.
What would she change? (Apart from everything).
The woman she has become looking at the woman who once was. What would she change?
She understands completely that you can not change how a person feels or behaves by forcing them to change. What would her mother change? Does she feel remorse for the relationship she built with her daughters? Would she do it all differently? These are questions she will never have an answer for. In the years preceding this point in time she doubts she would have gotten an answer anyhow.
Her mother was closed. She didn’t open herself up to her children. She figures there are deep reasons she chose to keep herself hidden.
She knows little about her mothers life before children. She knows little about it since they all came to be. She wasn’t interested. Or was it because her mother wasn’t able to share that part of herself? Did she sense it? Perhaps it was because their relationship sucked and she was so busy hating herself and her body and her family and her mother and her father and her whole fucking life that it didn’t even cross her mind to have an actual grown up conversation with her mother about anything.
Those moments are now lost forever.
“Would they matter anyway?”, she asks trying to convince herself that the enormity of such a loss has no meaning to her.
Her ears are focused intently on the rise and fall of her breath. A shaky breath in, a gurgling breath out more than a few seconds later. The suspension of her breath becoming more significant until its completion.
It’s as if the room has frozen around her. The air is still. She watches to see if her mother has indeed taken her last breath.
The end of a woman’s life lays before her. Her mind suspended in mid air. She can’t move. She can’t speak. In an instant everything has changed and nothing has changed all at once.
What does she do? How does she feel? Her heart hangs low but it feels numb. The tears she has never allowed herself to cry are stuck inside her.
How does she show love for her mother now her last moments on earth have gone away with her to another place. Heaven? Heaven sounds nice. She certainly deserves to be free of the turmoil that destroyed the woman she was supposed to be.
It was that turmoil that destroyed her daughters as well. They lived with that turmoil. Each of them absorbing it in their own way. Taking on a life they never wanted. Never asked for. Soaking up every last bit of it until they too were drowning in it.
She feels her cold heart more now than she ever has in the past. “Why can’t I feel more?”, she asks herself sadly.
She feels her cold heart more now than she ever has in the past. “Why can’t I feel more?”, she asks herself sadly.
She has done so much work on herself the last couple of years to melt her heart but in this instant it’s as if her heart has frozen all over again.
This is not how she wanted to be when her mother passed. She knew it was coming. She was sick for a few years. It’s not like she didn’t have time to prepare, yet, she also felt as if this day was never going to come. That her mother would always be there. She just always existed. Even when they were thousands of kilometres away, she was always there. Only a phone call away.
Except she never felt as if she could really talk to her mother. Especially not about how she was feeling. The deep stuff. The stuff that was hurting.
That’s what she missed the most. That kind of relationship. She longed for that.
And, now. Now her mother was gone, what would she miss? Honestly, what?
Its a fucked up thing to think but its the truth of her relationship with the woman who brought her into this world.
What would she miss?
There was no relationship. She looked after her mother the best she knew how in the last few years of her life. She (and her sisters of course) ensured she was well looked after and her affairs were in order, that she had what she needed. But it was from a distance. She took her own daughter to visit with her grandmother so they could spend time together and she did make an effort to give her her own time.
It was cold time. Icy time. Obligation time. No real connection between them. She hated every moment because it was not what she wanted it to be. But she didn’t know how to make it what she wanted it to be. The bridges were burned. She lit the matches herself.
In her mind there was no repairing the damage. The relationship was now nothing but charred remains.
So, there she stands at her mothers bed side, only a minute or two since her last breath. Holding her own breath at the thought of what is to come.
The next few hours are reflective. Her sisters and her sit together in the room and share stories of their childhood. Memories best left forgotten and ones to remember.
As the final goodbye draws near she still feels stuck in her emotions. Tears did mange to escape her as some feeling overtook her without her giving them permission, now, though, the tears are refusing to return.
She does will herself to give her one final kiss. She does not want to regret stopping herself from doing that for the rest of her life.
Dressed in a beautiful outfit in her favourite colour and draped in her beloved blanket, along with her most precious item; she is taken away.
The woman who brought her into this world now departed from a world she could never quite navigate.
Days pass by in a haste of activity. She had no idea how much there was to do when someone passes away. It keeps her busy mind from attaching itself to the one thing she cannot yet bring herself to do. Mourn.
She sees how others mourn the loss of a loved one. She isn’t that. She doesn’t even know how to begin to be that. To be the one who cries at the drop of a hat, who hears a song on the radio and feels the loss all over again, who misses being able to pick up the phone and talk to her mother and ask her advice.
They were never that.
She is well aware her heart has frozen in time. A time she can barely remember. Yet the feeling of something bitter and icy has kept her frozen heart suspended in air. This coldness keeps her mourning uncertain.
All the errands and emails, the paperwork and phone calls; she can do that. It requires little from her. She does not have to go into the depths of her emotions to finalise these mundane tasks. They keep her moving from one day into the next.
It is always in the back of her mind but it stays there unable to move. It, too, is frozen in place. She wants to move it. She wants to find a way to process what has happened. She can’t. Or won’t. She’s not sure which one. Maybe both.
Her childhood trauma has laid dormant for most of her life. It has sat inside the boulder she carries around in her body every single day. She knows its there. How can she not? It is weighing her down. Dragging her from today into tomorrow. But, she has ignored it. Not taken the time to acknowledge its presence fully. Its beginning to move. To shift. She can’t carry this weight any more. The pain is overwhelming.
There are so many questions. The answers, she knows, will begin to chip away at the boulder. Where can she find them? Some are inside her but some remain with the woman she calls mum.
She wants to understand the woman that was. If only she could have felt this way before she passed. Too late now. She wonders if things could have been different, if she was different. Would that change within bring about a change in her? Maybe. Her mother was so stuck in her own misery she isn’t convinced it would have made much difference.
She can only learn from her mistakes and not bring them into her own relationship with her daughter. A relationship she works hard on everyday.
What, now? Where does she go from here? With her feelings. What the fuck is she to do with the boulder full of feelings? She wants it out of her. She doesn’t want to feel the weight of it inside her any more.
She feels so weird about all of it. Every last detail of her life, her mothers passing and what has come after.
It’s such a touchy subject. A sad subject. A subject loaded with anger and frustration.
Not one person has asked her how she’s doing. She’s not surprised. She wouldn’t know what to say anyway. They are oblivious to her pain. That wall blocks it all out. Nothing gets over that wall or around it or under it. Sadness creeps in when she thinks about it.
What has she done to herself? Has she done the exact same thing her mother did? Keep people out? Why let people in when they are only going to hurt and disappoint you? Up goes the wall.
Her mind is fucked up. It can’t seem to comprehend any of it. What her mother did, how her mother was, what she has done to herself. All of it. A huge mind-fuck.
Which is why mourning her mothers passing has been so… so, non-existent.
She knows she needs to. She is well aware she needs to process, not only the last 4 decades of her life, but this emotionally intense moment in time. Despite the knowing, though, the emotions won’t come because she is scared. She is terrified of what will happen to her if she allows them to escape from her mind and her body.
Crying is not for her. Never has been. It makes her feel weak and ugly. So she stopped doing it many, many years ago. She only cries at sad movies.
There was one other time she cried with intense emotion. When her son was born sleeping. But even then she never allowed herself to fully feel the power of letting it all go.
That bloody wall.
It blocked off everything like a dam holding back a torrent of water.
How on earth can she knock it down? Does she even want to? How would she cope with decades of emotions flooding her body all at once? Would she drown or would she just let the flood take her where she needed to go and land her safely on the shore?
Was she willing to take the risk?
Not yet. She couldn’t. She doesn’t have it in her right now. Does she?
Where would I begin?, she wonders to herself.
She wants to cry. She really does. What is she crying for, though? Who is she crying for?
Does she mourn her mother first or does she mourn for the little girl inside her who’s joy was ripped from her body? Does she mourn for the life she really wanted but was never able to find? Does she mourn for her childhood lost amongst all of the debris of her parents own messed up life?
It’s all taken its toll. That boulder. That wall. Maybe she can throw the builder at the wall and hope it at least puts a crack in it?
She’s tired. Tired of feeling heavy. Tired of feeling nothing. And everything. It is all in there. Inside her. The nothingness and the everythingness. Two sides of the same coin. Yin and Yang. Black and white. Dark and light. Love and hate.
As she thinks back to that moment in the room, watching her mother breathe her last breaths, she wonders why humans are so wasteful. Wasteful of their time here on earth. Wasteful of their love and emotions. Wasteful of the beauty that is the human body.
It all feels connected somehow. Her mother’s passing has opened up a part of her she didn’t know existed. An examination of life. Of what it means to be given the privilege of a blip in time.
Though she can never know for sure, she does have a sense about her mothers life, that there was meant to be more for her, yet she didn’t possess the strength to grant herself permission to live it wholeheartedly. Without all of the bullshit sitting heavy within her.
She didn’t know she was allowed. It was a different time for her. The worlds rules weren’t what they are now. Those rules are being thrown out, torn up, rewritten. And, about fucking time.
This knowing adds a little more weight to her boulder. Not just for her mother. For herself. For all women. Women not living the life they are here to live. For letting all of the bullshit distract them from what is truly great about who they are.
She feels foolish. Lousy. Appalled. With herself. For wasting too many years of a good life believing she was nothing but unworthy.
She feels that way for all of the women before her who lived that way. For the women now living that way. For all the women to come who will still live that way even though there are many voices saying it is ok not to.
Is this how she will use her grief? To speak up on behalf of her mother to remind women they do not have to live with the misery any more? They do not have to let themselves succumb to all the hurt and the hate within them?
It feels big.
Is she up for it?
What of her mourning? It remains uncertain. There is one thing she is certain about and that is she cannot ignore it forever.
She will find a way. It won’t be perfect. It won’t be easy.
It will be her way.