Below you can find the first chapter in the book Thank you, mum. I hope it touches your heart.
(For the Swedish version, scroll up to the next post.)
I thought I was ready. I thought I was prepared.
You had after all been sick for a long time. Well, in all honesty, you'd been sick on and off throughout your entire life. I didn't give it much thought as a child. We had such great times together, even though you were in and out of the hospital. Even though your body was aching, and sore at times.
It wasn't until you suffered a severe heart attack that we realized you could die. You, our darling Mum, and grandma, who always had everything under control. You, who had meant so much to your students. Surely, you wouldn’t just lie down and die, and leave us behind? And you didn't. Not that time.
During the days and weeks, which followed the heart attack, every phone call from Dad made my heart hammer away inside my chest. A few anxious seconds every single time. Had you passed away? Were you back in hospital? At one point, you seemed to spend more time in an ambulance than any other person would in a lifetime. Then, things got better. Alternating periods of sickness and health. Worrying about your health became business as usual. Never truly fit and healthy, but then again, your condition wasn't life-threatening either.
When I got the opportunity to move to Spain for work, we certainly took your health into the equation. My family and I decided to move. Knowing you were only a few hours away by plane made us feel somewhat calmer, just in case we had to rush to get home. During our time in Spain, we got to know another lovely Swedish family. The wife lost both her parents while she lived abroad. I am so grateful that you were still with us when we returned home. You were still around, and we could reintroduce our monthly mother-daughter lunches. You wouldn't miss them for the world, unless you weren't feeling well enough, physically or mentally.
Your health was a factor when I decided to become what I called “Master of my time 2.0”. I left my lovely, rewarding career to create something even more meaningful. I started my own company where I made the schedule. I was with you and Dad every Tuesday. I believe it's a basic human need to care for our parents, don't you think, Mum? You loved caring for Grandma. Maybe it's our way of saying thank you for all we've been given. I enjoyed spending time with you both every week.
These regular visits helped us understand where we were heading. We noticed your flakiness, and realized that the almost comical forgetfulness was just the beginning of what was to come; a slow transformation. In the beginning, it was slower than it might have been had it not been for your and Dad's efforts and actions. You went to doctors, tried alternative medicine, invested time and money to buy yourselves more time, more time together. One day, Dad said,
"We need a miracle medicine; it's escalating so quickly now."
At first, your memory faded little by little, then in big chunks.
I thought I was ready, I thought I was prepared. I could see how you were slipping away from us, one step at a time. It was tough to stand by and witness all this happen. It was a tragic experience to be a part of. I started grieving at that point. The mum, I once knew and loved, was no longer there; at least not for more than a brief moment or two at a time. Like that moment when you rested on the couch, exhausted from anxiety attacks and wandering about with your aching body. You looked up at me and said, "Isn’t it lovely that we get to care for one another?"
Then you rested for a while and repeated the same sentence just a few minutes later. A lovely, serene moment.
You were already slipping away from me and I had already started mourning. I had plans of starting this book; the working title was Thoughts from a slow farewell. I thought it would be slow. I believed I would grieve and work through all that sadness before you passed away.
When anxiety got its claws into you, you screamed, "Please, let me die already!"
I told you your time would come eventually, but that you couldn't decide when. Life would make that decision for you. I wanted us to make the most out of the time we had left. I wanted you to know that you were allowed to let go, to leave us all behind.
I thought I was ready, I thought I was prepared. I wasn't. Perhaps, it isn’t possible to prepare for losing your mum. Especially, not a mum like you. My brother, Hans called on Sunday morning, "Mum’s passed away." Right then and there, it soothed me to know that you had been allowed to depart in your sleep. I was so grateful that, despite Covid-19 restrictions, I had got to visit you in hospital. But then came emptiness, sorrow and grief. Dad's bottomless pit of despair. The compassion shown by all of your friends, and you certainly had a great many friends. You had prepared us, Mum, by leaving us one step at a time. But still, the sorrow is a heavy cross to bear.
After all, you were (and still are) the greatest mum in the world.
This is a chapter in the book Thank you, mum. A book for those who miss someone.
Please share this blogpost if you think it can help someone! You are also very welcome to share your thoughts in the comments section.
Each week you can read a new chapter on this blog. To get a notification by mail when a new chapter is posted, click here.
If you would like to give the book to someone you think can be soothed by it, or to yourself, you can find it on Amazon on any of the links below, or you can search for it on your Amazon of choice.
Amazon in the Netherlands (Note, it is double the price on this market - if possible choose another one)