I remember like it was yesterday, you came into my bedroom, I was lying in bed half asleep, you sat quietly on my bed and turned the lamp on. I sat up, slightly annoyed that you had disturbed me from my slumber but happy to see you.
To this day I can remember the pain in your eyes as you looked over at me, you briefly put your hand on my leg, we both knew that this was likely to be the last night that you stayed at home, the following morning you were likely to go into the hospice, which meant one thing. You were going to die.
All my hopes and dreams that I inwardly held onto like a sacred jewel, were shattered. You were dying, the cancer had taken over.
I could see it in your skin, the yellow jaundice that tinged your olive complexion. Your hair now all but gone, hidden under a woolly hat. The whites of your eyes were yellow. And your once energetic body was weary.
We made small talk as you sat on my bed. Neither of us facing the reality that perhaps this was our final goodbye, one of our last conversations as mother and daughter.
Finally you spoke about the elephant in the room and explained that you were likely to go into the hospice tomorrow, you told me that you loved me very much, I told you that I loved you. I can’t remember very much of that moment, the pain in your eyes still haunts me now. The slow trickle of the tears that ran from your jaundiced eyes, your dry and bony hands that grasped mine, the darkness of the room that engulfed my heart and my soul. I asked you about your most favourite memories, you told me of the time you met my father, as well as the joy that me and my brother gave you.
I somehow asked you tell me one thing that you had learnt about life..
You laughed, before saying.. Never take advantage of your health, you never know what life might throw at you. You then said in your witty way… Also darling never marry the first man you fall in love with, it never ends well.
You then kissed me on the top of the head, before turning the side lamp off and walking out of my bedroom for the very last time.
Since the years that my mum has passed away, I have analysed that moment through and through. Why didn’t I say this? Why didn’t I ask her that? Why didn’t I tell her….
Truth is, at the time, I didn’t know what to say… At that’s the sad reality, when are we ever fully prepared to have our final goodbyes, to know when and what to say to our loved ones. I know for me that it was something that I had never been prepared for, not at 17, probably not ever.
I have over time finally come to piece with the fact that I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t get to ask various questions, I’m not saying I’ve stopped beating myself up thinking about that night and what I could have said, but it doesn’t hurt as much.
I also took my mums advice and never married the first man I fell in love with… I just wish I could tell her that.