July 25, 2022

How Do I Say Goodbye to You, My Mum?

As I sit here in your chair, I’m comforted by all your things around me.

Everywhere I look, there are little pieces of you. Little pieces that are bittersweet because you are gone.

How do I reconcile in my head the last few days? How do I accept that you, my biggest fan and most loyal supporter, have gone? How do I adapt to a life without you? How will I ever adjust to losing you?

How do I say goodbye to you, my mum?

Having been with you holding your hand as you slipped away was the hardest, most frightening, overwhelming, yet hauntingly beautiful moment. But you were so damn brave. So courageous and so vulnerable. You showed an incredible strength that I will take with me always.

You had struggled for so long, fought so hard, and hung on so tightly to life. But your pain-and-illness ravished body was so tired, and even though your mind was sharp, it was time to leave us. It was time to let go, and as you did, your peace came, and even though sadness, loss, and grief overcame us, we too had a sense of peace that you will no longer struggle in pain. You will no longer suffer.

We spent several hours reminiscing on your final days, moments that are now memories we will forever cherish. Your love and pride for us all shining through. There was little you didn’t know about me, and regardless of whether you agreed with my choices, you always supported me. You always stood by me, and you were always proud of me. I didn’t know until recently that you would get so worried about me, especially the last few years when I went through my own struggles, that you would call my friends to get comfort that I was okay.

Your love was completely unconditional. I’ll always hold onto that love.

But you could also be a hurricane. You could and would drive me crazy sometimes. You could be dramatic and prone to embellishment. Overly sensitive, emotional, and you always wore your heart on your sleeve. We always knew what you were feeling and thinking because you were not backward in coming forward. This could be both good and terrifying, but at the core of it all was your love and concern for us, your family.

When you found out that I was pregnant with your first grandchild you were ecstatic. You had five grandkids who became the light of your life—the joy they brought you lighting you up from the inside out. In January, you were told the news that your eldest granddaughter (and my beautiful girl) was pregnant with your first great grandchild. I still remember your squeal of delight just before you burst into happy tears that you were going to have a great-grandbaby. You have spent the last six months shopping online so your great-granddaughter, when she arrives, will have enough clothes until she is five!

We are devastated that we got so close, just five weeks away, and you could have held that precious baby girl in your arms. This one cuts so deep mama, but we will make sure she knows all about you. She will know how much you loved her and how hard you tried to hang on.

I’m wondering how I’m going to navigate this new life without you. When I go to call you, but you’re no longer there. When I have news to share with my most loyal fan. When I hear the phone ring, but it will never be you. When my books are published and all of my goals are reached, you won’t be there to see it. You won’t get to see your precious granddaughter become a mum, or your other grandchildren get married and have children. You won’t be here to see it, but I know, I know with all my heart, that you will be our guardian angel. You will be with us every step of the way.

I grew up in what I thought was a typical family. You and dad always verbalised your annoyance and frustrations with each other. You would bicker, and sometimes I wondered whether you were meant to be, but dad has cared for you for 20 years. I don’t think he knows who he is without you and without caring for you. As I watched him with you in your final days, it struck me that there was something so very rare with your relationship. Even when you were no longer conscious, your body responded to his voice. I realised that your love would transcend anything, and it wouldn’t matter where you both were—that love will be with you both always. We will look after dad, and I know you will be with him.

You mentioned toward the end that you didn’t want a fuss, and I’m still smiling at that comment. I don’t know who you were kidding, but fuss was part of your DNA, and fuss you will be getting. You loved fuss, and Thursday will be the send-off you deserve. And I know you will be looking down at us satisfied and content that we have fussed just the right amount for you.

I’m not ready to say goodbye because I know you aren’t really leaving us. So instead, I’m going to say go fly with the butterflies, my beautiful mama. Thank you for all that you were and all that you did for us. Everything you did, you did from love, and you did the very best you knew how too.

I will carry you in my heart, and your love will give me strength to step forward without you. And even though I cannot control my tears, and I feel a little broken, you have taught me courage. I am who I am because of you.

Forever loving you, my very special mum.

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