[Salt Water mum wrote this piece in April but is happy for it to be published today. Her mum sadly died on 2nd July 2019]
Four weeks ago, my sister and I brought our children to say goodbye to their Granny. My mother was dying and it was time to let her go. So we all thought. My sister, being the practical one, insisted we go shopping for our 'funeral' clothes that same day too. When our father had died, we had raced from his death bed to the department store to buy our black ensembles. This time, we would be prepared!
I remember that department store vividly - my ex-husband rang as I hunted for suitable black shoes for my children. He told me he had always loved my father and that he had always loved me. He reminded me that 'love was never our problem'. Which was true. We did the love thing well. It was the 'normal' living bit that we couldn't manage. I remember sitting on the floor crying, amidst mismatched kids footwear. Crying about my failed marriage, crying about my dead father and just crying because sometimes it all gets too much.
So, here we are again but mum, with all her strength, has defied the doctors and is alive still. No one knows how long she has. Hers is a complicated illness - nothing about my mother is straightforward! We have a tense, volatile relationship and yet I love her. It's the same with my ex-husband. Part of me will always love him because he is the father of my children.
In the past few weeks, I have heard the same advice from three people: 'Choose your life partner carefully, it's the biggest decision you will ever make.'
One of those people was a character in a novel.
One was from a TED talk.
And one was a rather strange, random man I walked past on the beach (I meet a lot of such people - another blog!!)
Death. Grief. Hurt. Loss. I'm lumping them all in here. People who you love and you leave or who leave you. And it's all painful. I remember commiserating with a lovely woman, a poet, when her husband died.
'I was sorry to hear about your husband's death,' I said.
'And I was sorry to hear of your separation,' she said.
'Oh gawd, no, completely different,' I argued, '...thank you but you've been through so much...' And she looked at me and said the kindest, most insightful words I heard at that time '...it's still loss, a different kind, but it's all loss.'
Every visit since our 'goodbye-to-Gran-day', when I leave mum now, I say 'I love you'. Even the days she doesn't speak to me or doesn't know who I am or imitates my voice in a mocking way. Even those days, I say 'I love you, mum'.
She's old. She's sick. She's lived her life. It won't be a tragedy. She wasn't motherly. She wasn't the mother I wish I'd had. But I do love her. And I will miss her.
It's all loss.
Salt water mum
A Moodscope member.