Caroline M's blog: Thank You for the Days
My mom was an avid reader. She had a stunning command of language, and many of my memories in my twenties revolve around book swaps, and book club like conversation between us.
For six weeks I have been incorrectly misquoting in my head - ‘Grief is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.’
And really feeling every syllable to be true. Grief is sitting there; pausing, but not stopping.
It would be fair to say my mother is turning in her grave at my butchery of such well respected poetry.
She died in early July. She had battled dementia for years, and as a family, we grieved her throughout that long goodbye. In the final days before she passed we willed her to find her peace. The relief we shared that her suffering was over afforded us the opportunity to celebrate her life.
We dug deep into the memory bank, discarding the difficult recent years that had dominated our thoughts of her. We revealed this character that we were so privileged to know, to have in our corner and to call our mother.
It turns out many others opened their memory floodgates too. People in their droves came to us with stories of loving being in her company. Her fun. Her kindness. Her way of making you feel you were the only person in the conversation. Of how she was a ’formidable’ teacher instilling in her pupils a love of French and History as well as her respectful nature in both the classroom and staffroom. Her sharp mind and even sharper wit.
It has been an emotionally polarising experience.
We grieved the person. We grieved what could have been. We grieved what has not even yet happened- her future absence from our lives.
But we simultaneously and deservingly celebrated her.
The sun shone throughout her wake and funeral. Our rediscovered memories were bright too. We wondered how she did it, how she kept all the plates spinning for all those years. We shared stories of her sense of humour. We sang songs that we grew up with, and had formed a soundtrack to our exchanged memories. We sense checked ourselves in light hearted moments assuring ourselves that ‘Brend would have just loved that’.
We were blown away by the generosity of our friends and neighbours- a peek into this rural, almost tribal ritual that took the practicalities and worries out of our hands.
It was a fitting tribute and I know there will be more to come.
To my mom - Thank you for the days.
Caroline M works in Investment Risk at an Asset Manager in Dublin. She recently relocated with her husband, two wonderful and resilient girls age 6 and age 4, as well as their ‘proving to be popular’ dog.