Wednesday, 25 June 2014

5. The rose-strewn grave

I thought that once my mother's funeral was over, I would be able to focus on the business of getting on with cancer. But I can't.

My surgeon explained all my test results today, and gave me a glimpse of the treatment that awaits me. I was going to tell you about that, but I can't, not yet. It just doesn't seem important enough.

Because I miss my mother. Terribly. I haven't really missed her for years, but I miss her now.

To my profound surprise, I find that I am longing and longing to go and sit on her rose-strewn grave. Surprise, because I never imagined I might find comfort at a graveside. I never imagined I might feel close to her there. All I need to do is open my heart, wherever I am, and she will be with me. Right?

At the funeral, the sun was shining on my mother's coffin as we stood under the dappled shade of an age-old tree and showered her with large red roses. The day was full of people, full of music, full of memories, full of everything.

What I need now is a day that is empty of everything, so I can sit and listen to the silence, and perhaps find her there.

I imagine the silence of my mother's grave and am yearning for it.

What I don't need is a day full of talk about (non-)cancerous lymph nodes and chemotherapy planning. I go through the motions, I listen to the doctor and the nurse, I take it all in, I understand it all, I ask all the questions that need asking. And I want to know the answers, really I do. I am glad I didn't have to wait for Results Day any longer.

But coming home, I find that my cancer is merely a distraction from the business of grieving.

So here I am, realising with a lurch in my stomach that my mother is dead. Frankly, it should come as no surprise that a woman who has been dying for weeks is now dead - but I am surprised. 

It should come as no surprise that once your mother has died, you are grieving. But I am surprised, because I thought that I'd done my grieving beforehand, during the past four years of her illness and the weeks of her final decline.

I hadn't thought of putting the business of grieving on my emotional to-do list for the summer. 

That's why I can't tell you about my test results today. Rest assured: today's news was not shocking enough to lose any sleep over. I will tell you tomorrow, perhaps.

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