A follow on from my last post, this is a piece I wrote over the dark months of December 2008, January and Febuary 2009. It was never finished as a miracle saved her, and I have not yet had to find out about life without my much cherished mother. I hope it is a long time until I do.
My mother is dying. Not today, not even tomorrow. But slowly, piece by piece, she is dying. And as she disintegrates piece by piece, so do I. I too am dying. I am emotionally dying. You wouldn’t know it to look at me. You probably wouldn’t even realise if you spoke to me. But I am. Slowly, secretly, quietly on the inside. Hidden away. Friends have not yet realised I have severed ties, that I can no longer abide trivial conversations or even manage to be polite. My ability to cheerily chitchat was the first part of me to dissolve. The quivering mess of raw nerves inside my calm outer shell start to expand if I interact with others in reality too long. They threaten to break the fragile cover and reveal their ugliness to the outside world, and I cannot allow that to happen. I am smart enough to feign commitments, to create obligations which prevent me from more than the obligatory, fleeting “hi, must run.”
It is getting harder and harder to leave the cocoon of my bed. But leave it I must, for as my mother leaches life, I must step into her void. She tells me she feels guilty for my illness. I tell her it is not her, it’s me. But I have now realised what a fraudulent life I have led for years. All the time I battled forwards, coping with whatever life tossed my way, laughing in the face of the Gods, little did I know that a gentle, firm hand was placed firmly in the small of my back, propelling me onwards, upwards. My Mother’s hand. It is only now as her frailties eat away her life I realise how much strength was within that small hand. How much of who I am, belongs to her. The hardest battle of my life must now be completed without her, for it is her loss, her death, I am fighting. Fighting a war I will not win. If I stay in bed and utilise the phone as my connection to the outside world I can fool my embattled, weary psyche that all is well. All is as it was, even as her disembodied voice betrays her weakness down the line. But my pretence is short-lived as I cannot abandon her for more than a day, and taking that one selfish day of denial unleashes endless feelings of guilt.
My body is now synchronising itself in sympathy with hers. Physically, as the cancer ravages her frail body, I am falling apart. Is it that we are so aligned, so close my whole physical being links to the betrayal of her body? Or is this just the physical manifestation of my weakness, my selfishness, my inability to save her? As I do not cope emotionally, my body reacts physically. Logically, I know I cannot rescue her, I know nobody can, but that does not deafen my heart’s response. Nor can my logic quell my small bursts of hope, the little explosions of maybe that help me to get out of bed each day and drag my deteriorating carcass into the shower in readiness for another day as her carer. Carer, such an ambiguous word. I am her daughter, her friend, these are my roles, and I should not have to destroy her dignity by helping her do the most demeaning of tasks. My soul weeps when I look at her sad, solemn face. Through her own tears she thanks me, in a quiet ladylike manner, so refined even in the face of degradation by age and illness. My Mum, oh Mum.
This is where it ends. A week later she was rushed off in the ambulance and as her life was renewed, so too was I. This is not a piece I thought I would ever share but posting about our drive home made me realise how blessed I am, and how close it all came to this emotional house of cards falling down.
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