Friday, August 24, 2012

Lesson 1: Death

My Mother is dying.

I've been prepared for it for all of my adult life, haven't I? Accepted yet dreaded this day would come. Her advancing years meant her odds were not improving. Time was not relenting and yet... just a few weeks ago she was fine. Healthy, smiling, laughing, talking of Christmas and all it entails. And now she's not. This happens to other people doesn't it?

I'm OK with death. I mean I'm not afraid of it. I'm at ease with the notion. But that says more about me I guess. After all, it's not like there's a get-out clause, a 'Get Out of Death Free Card'. It's as real as it gets and yet it's ripped a hole in my chest like a being hit with a cannonball at close range. Searing through my flesh and splintering bone and tearing muscle and ligament, leaving behind a gaping wound. I know it won't heal completely. It may close in time, become smaller, bearable and the burning pain may recede but it will never heal.

My Mother is dying. Help her, please. Somebody save her.

I want to be strong for her. I want to cry but I can't. I want to save her. I know I can't. She's helpless and so am I. We try to act normal when we're together. "How's your day been, she asks?" (I think), Well... it's been hell, as has the night and every minute that passes as I think of what you are facing. (I reply), "OK Mum, everything's OK. I'm fine." But it's not OK. It's not even close to OK. It's terrible. And I don't feel fine. And she smiles at me, like only a Mother can. And I'm at home again. I'm very young. A movie reel plays in my head. I'm off school and in bed, feeling unwell. She brings me a hot drink, sits on the bed and puts  her hand to my brow. I close my eyes. It's soothing and safe and I feel better. I open my eyes and she's smiling at me. That same smile. 

My Mother is dying. She has Terminal Cancer.