My mother slipped quietly away last evening. I was there with her to watch her last breath, along with my cousins Shawn and Andrea – the three children she brought up over the course of her short, fruitful life. I watched as the pain etched in her face like a scar finally disappeared.
She was 55 years old. She was young, she was beautiful, and apart from the aggressive cancer that seemed determined to consume her, she was healthy.
Outside the room was a throng of people; a rich blend of family and friends, old and new. Ward 43 was used to the constant stream of visitors by then. They noted how she never had any shortage of willing and helping hands. They noticed how they came, how they practically set up shop and kept vigil. Her doctor told me it was obvious how she had touched many.
Amidst the hurt that strangles, amidst the searing loss so hot, it temporarily blinds memories, I am deeply proud that strangers can wonder aloud about the kind of woman my mother had been. That a life so honest and humble could also speak so loudly. My mother loved life and loved people.
I’ve been sitting in her bedroom since a little before dawn, and it’s here that I’m learning how grief can be disconnected from the part of the brain that summons memories. This bedroom is a heartbreaking blend of sepia-toned memories and her excruciating final months. I shared a bed with her in this room. My toy boxes were in this room. Long talks into the wee hours of the morning were in this room. Shouting matches were in this room. Forgiveness was in this room. And in the final weeks, a lot of pain was suffered in this room.
Right now, knowing that she will not walk into this room again hurts more than I can ever hope to put into words. I miss my mummy terribly. Thanks for listening.