I’ll Never forget… Monday, the 21st of February, 2000.
The doctor had said mum could come home for the weekend but it’d probably be the last time that she did. Dad kept repeating those words and crying, as we were following the ambulance back to the hospice. Dad used to break down all the time but he’d try to stay strong around mum, making jokes in an attempt to make her laugh. When we got to the hospice, her bed was ready and almost waiting for her. She was being given painkillers constantly through an intravenous line, however when the doctor asked her if she was in pain she’d smile and say no. The doctor told us that people in the final stages of cancer usually scream in pain, but mum was so patient and calm.
Mum always was so gracious in the way she carried herself. She had a gentle, kind manner, but wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. She was breathtakingly beautiful but so modest and sweet. As a mum, she was strict and disciplined but always fair and forgiving. She was full of great advice and made an excellent listener. She always had a way of making everything better. I know it’s clichéd but she really was the best mum in the world.
We sat around mum’s bed, just talking. She wasn’t talking much that day but I remember she asked dad about roses and how many different colour varieties there are. Dad paused, I later found out what he was thinking at that moment, and proceeded to list all the different colours.
It’s strange how I have such vivid memories of the events that transpired that day but the gaps in between those events are filled in with blurred vagueness. I don’t even know if I went to school that day, or if it was the half term holiday, or if we missed school because mum was so poorly.
I remember clearly what happened around 8pm. Dad and all four of us siblings were there with mum. It was time for mum’s dialysis, she had been on CAPD (continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis) for years. I washed my hands, and proceeded as I usually did. We were talking about ‘Eastenders’, it was about to start, we were discussing the episode from the night before – they had aired an extra episode on the Sunday. Mum started to gasp for air, dad immediately stood up beside her and my sister ran to get the nurse. We were not prepared for what we were about to hear, “this is it, she’s breathing her last breaths. I’ll leave you to say your goodbyes”. The nurse drew the curtain around us and left. We all froze, tears streaming down our faces. Dad started reciting the Kalimah, we all joined in. Mum’s tongue was moving in between the gasps of air, producing the ‘La ilaha illallah’ part of the Kalimah. Her gasps got shorter and closer together until they just stopped. That was it. She was gone. In just one moment, she left behind the five people to whom she meant the world.
On the way to the funeral director, I remember dad asking them to take mum via our house, one last time. He didn’t want that weekend visit to really be the last time she came home. It was a difficult time for us all. Dad lost his beloved wife, aged 39 years. Fifteen years later, and he still can’t talk about her without crying. None of us can. Whoever said ‘time heals all wounds’, lied. We all just carried on, doing what we hoped would make mum proud.
I’ll never forget… You were the star in a dark night’s sky,
You were the first ray of sunshine after a storm,
You were the warmth and love that made our house a home,
You were the inspiration behind all our success,
You were a blessing upon us and will never be forgotten.
Love you mum xx