I am grieving for a time that has yet to come, the time when my mum is no longer living. It feels strange on one hand because, although she's had some physical challenges in her lifetime and she's coming up to 80 at the beginning of next year, she's still very much alive! She could easily live for another 20 years! I could die before her, such is the randomness of living and dying!
But I still grieve for the day I get the phone call or watch her take her last breath.
I did this with my dad when I moved across the planet in 2001. I moved from Canada to Australia with my then husband and our 2 month old baby boy. It was a daring adventure that has had its challenges but nothing I regret. Not even missing my dad's death and funeral by two weeks. I have written about his death in a previous blog and you can read more about that here. I began to prepare for my dad's death when, each time I saw him on a visit back home, I noticed his aging and slow decline into diabetic ill health. He had been treating it but I guess it wasn't enough to keep him going. He went for a nap one day, fell into a diabetic coma and died in his sleep. But because I had emotionally prepared for his death in many ways and many years before, I found it much easier to let him go. I felt complete with him. I had no unfinished business to grieve about.
I keep his memories alive in my heart and take him wherever I go. I know I will do this with each of my family members as and when they die.
It's been nearly 4 years since my last visit back home to Vancouver. I have missed many milestones and birthdays, many celebrations and losses, as well as a few upsets with ill health.
I really feel the fragility of the lives of everyone in my family and with my friends too. I feel the preciousness of life all too keenly, perhaps more so because I'm not just a stone's throw away.
After many precarious starts and stops with people, planning and finances, I'll be escaping some of our Australian Winter, as tough as it is (wink, wink) and heading home to see my family and friends. Visiting has never felt so happy and and felt so hard earned. Yet, there seems to be a tinge of bittersweet to it as well. It's not anything I've ever felt before, not this keenly anyway.
The work I do with death and dying has made me appreciate the people in my life all that much more. These are the relationships that will really count at the end of my life, or theirs if death comes to them first. Life is not about money, or status, or fancy cars and houses. It all boils down to who you've loved and who's loved you and how you've loved each other.
I cried with my mum (thank goodness for Skype) when it looked like I wasn't going to be able to visit. I was gutted! My mum and I cried together when she said she'd help me out. Neither of us wanted to go any longer without hugging each other! Four years is a mighty long time to go without getting a hug from your mum!!!
Anticipating the eventual end of my mum's life has just brought home to me how much she means to me. Just like my dad, I will carry my mum in my heart and memories for as long as I live. I will find peace in that.
Live now, love now and always be prepared to let go. This is something I've been saying for a while now. Preparing to let go, for me, is happening now with my mum.
It all comes down to love and the relationships we have with each other. I love all of my family and can't wait to give them all huge squishy hugs!!!
For another day I am passionately yours,
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