Mum was 91 when she died in June 2011. She’d been relatively well, but a fall put her in hospital, where she contracted pneumonia. She’d never completely recovered from the shock of Dad’s death, sixteen years earlier. That her life continued in his absence seemed to her to be perverse. So when it became clear that these were her final days, she looked forward to reunion. For her, there were no doubts. Her concern was then to tell each of us who gathered that she loved us, to talk to us about our wellbeing in the days to come. There was calm, generosity, grace. If a death can be beautiful, this one was.
So my grief was more for myself than for her. She did not want longer life. But there is no preparation for the loss of a loving mother. And it was more than that. Until then, I hadn’t realised that my view of my parents was still my child’s view of the single unit, Mum-and-Dad. As long as Mum was here, then so was Dad in some strange way. Then they were both gone. Completely.