Letting Go

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“Let go”

The words that I whispered into my dad’s ear as he struggled through his final moments.

‘Letting go’

The last stage of grief is acceptance.

Next week will be the third anniversary of Ma’s passing.

Dad’s death was hard enough but his illness was terminal and we had time to prepare. Mum’s came as a complete shock – dying without warning of natural causes.

I experienced pain like I’d never known. The woman who had carried me in her womb, arms and heart was gone.

No goodbye.

No last “I love you”.

I couldn’t comprehend that Ma, who would reduce workmen to quivering wrecks with her Hyacinth Bucket approach, had succumbed to death like this. I’d imagined that she’d be immortal, like my auntie B (90 odd now) and giving death the V’s until she was ready to go.

Not so. Death came quickly and broke our hearts.

As if losing her wasn’t devastating enough, we had to clear and sell her house – our family home. Anybody who has gone through this will know just how hard it is to put your loved one’s life into boxes and plastic bags.

My brothers and I started this task with heavy hearts but the process took us on a journey of remembrance. There were tears of sorrow and laughter in equal measure. There was no fighting over who should have what. We instinctively knew. Also.. Ma would have flounced down from heaven itself to clip us round the lugholes if we’d have argued.

I took a lot of Ma’s personal stuff such as her clothes. I was always nicking them when she was alive, she had great taste did Ma. I needed to have things that she’d touched or worn. (excluding undies – I’m not weird!) I needed to feel close to her, as close as it was possible to be..

How could something as mundane as a hairbrush become so important?

It was a plain hairbrush but a few silver strands of hair remained within the bristles.

Her hair.

Whenever I went home to see her, I’d always use her hairbrush and she’d do her nut. She hated anyone using her brush – she had a thing about nits. But I’d finally got my hands on the hallowed hair brush without the risk of being bollocked, although a part of me expected it to fly out of my hand.

The most precious items were the brush, her engagement ring and a scarf which was infused with Eau de Ma, the unmistakable aroma of perfume and fags.

Whenever the sadness got too much, I’d take out the scarf, bury my face into it and cry my heart out.

I was angry at her for dying. I was angry at myself for not being there.

I know now that this was a necessary part of the grieving process.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are the stages of grief but everybody’s experience is unique to them.

I experienced all but the bargaining stage with my mother. There was nothing to bargain for as there was no forewarning.

Sadness took the place of anger and it all but consumed me. But, day by day, I got through it by talking and writing about her.

Gradually her clothes have gone into charity bags until only a few special items have remained.

Three years later, the smell of perfume and Silk Cut on the scarf is all but gone but it won’t gather fluff in the bottom of the drawers. I will wear it on a winters day and remember how beautiful she looked wearing it, walking towards me in our little cafe in town.

I am no longer broken. I am no longer lost. I am just on a different path.

I will never be the woman I was before she died. How can I be when she was part of me and I of her?

I was very close to my mother and the depth of my grief is because I loved her so much. Grief, after all, is the price that we pay for loving someone.

Death is a given, yet we’re not comfortable with it unlike a lot of cultures. We fight against it. It’s still taboo.

Ma had 70 years of good health, despite a liking for gin (and whiskey) and puffing on 10 fags a day (slightly more when the gas bill came in) She lived a full and happy life! But she’s back with my dad, most likely getting 15 years worth of nagging in.

Letting go isn’t easy but it is necessary in order to move on. You never get over the loss of someone you’ve loved with all your heart but most people learn to live with it. There are no rules with grief. Some people take months, others take years. Sadly for some, moving on is impossible.

It’s taken me three years to pick myself up but I’m there and on the 27th, I will raise a glass to my wonderful Ma in remembrance of a life lived with love, laughter and dignity. Despite a few moody adolescent moments of me calling her a cow, (then legging it as fast as) I am so proud to call this exceptional lady “Mum”. She couldn’t have loved me any better. I couldn’t have loved her more.

“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”~ For One More Day  Mitch Albom

 

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‘Ma’ 4th August 1939 ~ 27th August 2011

 

Image Credit ‘Bench’

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20 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. What a beautiful post Sis. So lovely.
    Gorgeous pic too, you are so like your Mum in this one.
    Lots of love and hugs. A glass will be raised for her here on the 27th as well xx

  2. Oh, Tracy I love this post. I lost my Mum suddenly too, and when the time comes I shall blog my story. I think when you become a Mum yourself you realise exactly how your Mum feels about you and I am glad that that feeling doesn’t go away. Enjoy your memories and the time you were together. X

  3. Oh Tracy the way both your parents died are exactly the same as mine, the only dufference being my strongest live was for my Dad, who died 2009. I didn’t want personnel things from my mum, I wanted them from my Dad but they were for my mum to keep. I quietly and alone told my Dad to *let go* he could go safely and away! I laid with him that night! mum in the spare bedroom! Kev at home with kids. Just me and him, I damped his lips, told him I loved him and told him to stop fighting. It was the opposite of how I really felt, I wanted him, I needed him, I do today and tomorrow and I will never have peace from being a Daddies Girl.
    My death was like yours, sudden and unexpected, lying dead on my birthday, instead of having tea with us. I loved her but sometimes didn’t like or agree with her, never saying anything, just couldn’t be arsed to discuss it! I let her down, I should have been with her, the police & paramedics worked on her cause she was still warm…….if only we had gone earlier to see where she was was. That day I felt a love I’ve never know before and also I was frightened by her bidy, she wasn’t dead, that was impossible, I had spoke to her that morning…..BUT I HADN’T FINISHED WITH “I Love you”…….oh my god I hope she knew.
    Perhaps cause I’m in constant pain I can’t be at peace with their deaths. I hurt, I hurt most days. Tick box to all of the councelling, PTSD, mental health help etc……I’m just lonely without them. Yes I have a beautiful family of my own bit it’s not the same…..why am I writing this, OMG Tracy, it’s your blog, sitting here wondering wether to delete or not??????
    Right, I’m here……what a wonderful written blog Tracy and the most beautiful photo of you and your Mum, so similar and you can see the love in each other by the eyes. You have written, sharing your sadness, love BUT as always, with a humour that takes the edge off of the heartbreak of your loss. Cheers to your Ma on the 27th…..it was lovely to meet you Tracy’s Mum, a gorgeous looking lady. I can see where Tracy gets her good looks from.
    I’m bawling…….love you Tracy, like you wouldn’t understand xxxxxx

    • Aww Sheerie I LOVE that my posts inspire you to write such great comments. It’s therapeutic for both of us. I’m so glad you didn’t delete it. It’s important to get these things out…it doesn’t hurt so much then.
      I still have the things that Ma gave me when Dad died. A tee shirt, his RAF buttons and his beloved Elvis belt buckle…ooh and his bottle of Old Spice lol still pongs all these years later!
      Thank you for sharing your feelings about your parents. Loves you to the moon and back! 🙂 xXxXx

  4. So beautifully moving. Stirred up so many emotions. Your mum sounds amazing and I adore the photo of you both. Both as gorgeous as each other. Thank you for sharing something so personal. Xxxxxxx

  5. What a wonderful post, bought back memories of when my Dad died. I remember begging him to let go although it broke my heart when he did. Don’t know how I’ll cope when I lose Mum, can’t imagine life without her.
    You and your Mum obviously had a very special relationship and I feel privileged to read about it.
    Love you x

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