Funny Matters

Two Years On…

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Funny Matters - Two Years On - Angela Wilson

Today is 14th of July 2014.

Bastille Day.

The anniversary of the beginning of the French revolution. The storming of the Bastille.

For me though, it’s something far more significant.

It’s two years to the day that my wonderful Mum died. At the local hospice. With us at her side. Me. My brother. My stepdad.

If you’ve read my last post you’ll know that I’ve been asked to write an article. For an end of life news organisation. About our positive hospice experience during Mum’s final days.

It’s completely by chance this has coincided with the anniversary of her death. But somehow it seems utterly fitting.

Writing the article has forced me to go back. Re-visit in my mind those final few days. To try and articulate what it was that the Isabel Hospice – and its staff – did for us during that time.

The thing about me is I’m an annoyingly eternal optimist.

I try my hardest to choose not to focus on the loss. On what was taken from us as a result of Mum’s diagnosis and her subsequent death.

But instead to concentrate on everything it gave to us. To me.

I know that might sound odd to some. Deluded even. What on earth can you be grateful for during such a bleak and traumatic period?

But something became apparent to me. Even before she died in fact. And certainly more so since writing these posts:

All the moments of joy which we experienced during that time.

Sometimes very small moments. Blink-and-you-miss-them moments in some cases. But in such an incredibly unjoyful bastard of a time even the smallest and most fleeting of positive moments became precious to us.

The majority of the 18 month period from Mum’s diagnosis until her death was bleak. Full of devastatingly bad news. Terror. Shock. And intense sadness.

But there were also many moments of love. Laughter. And of joy.

We learnt to appreciate them when they arose. Savour them. Celebrate and cherish them. They became everything.

So I wanted to share a memory with you. Today. The 2nd anniversary of Mum’s death.

It’s from those final days at the hospice. I don’t even think I was conscious of it then. At the time. It’s only now. Looking back. Remembering something I hadn’t thought of since that day.

It was the day that Mum had arrived at the hospice.

Until then we’d all been incredibly reticent about her going there. Especially Mum.

We were fearful. Of what it would be like. And of everything a hospice represented.

But we needn’t have been.

On the first day there, one of the nurses helped Mum to get comfortable in bed. Her pain was pretty bad at that time. It was quite an effort to even sit up without setting off tremendous discomfort.

As the nurse was helping to manoeuvre Mum she’d introduced herself. Said her name.

I wish I was 100% on this. But I’m pretty sure it was Carol.

Whatever it was, it was also the name of an old song. One I didn’t remember (being the whipper-snapper that I am). But Mum did.

Despite being in pain, she started singing the song. And the nurse joined in. My Mum was one of the shyest people about. But singing made her feel free of everything. I could see how much that small shared moment meant to her. That connection. It lit her up.

It was such a beautiful glimpse into something special.

The nurse and her patient singing together. A comical serenade of two. I remember being so touched. By this small moment of joy.

And by how well my Mum was being cared for by a complete stranger.

I could go on and on about how much the hospice and the staff did for us and for my Mum at the end of her life. In fact, I’ve done just that in the article I’ve been asked to write. You can’t shut me up!

But really I could have saved my words. The essence of what they did is all there in that short memory. It says it all.

They treated my mum like a person. Not just a patient.

And by doing so they enabled her to experience little snapshots of happiness at a time when happiness was in such short supply.

It was like holding up a piece of glass towards the sun and momentarily casting a dancing shard of light upon everything.

Thank you Isabel Hospice and staff for helping us to navigate that final journey with such care.

And most of all, thank you Mum for always being my dancing shard of light.

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16 Comments on “Two Years On…

  1. Michela
    July 14, 2014

    What a beautiful memory you share of your mum and the nurse sharing a song together, I love that! I think you and I are similar in the way we have looked at the death of our loved ones, I also try and embrace what it taught and showed me, instead of the pain and loss. Love your posts!

    • Angela Wilson
      July 14, 2014

      Thanks Michela! Yes!! Doesn’t mean it’s any less painful not having our loved ones with us…but feels like we’re somehow honouring them by celebrating the positives they’ve brought us, even through their loss. Lovely you feel the same – thanks for the comment M! xx

  2. Leigh Kendall
    July 14, 2014

    What a beautiful post. Very special memories to treasure. It sounds like the hospice staff did all they could to make your mum’s last moments really matter xxx

    • Angela Wilson
      July 14, 2014

      Thanks so much Leigh, it means a lot to know you liked it. It can be important to learn and take meaning from loss can’t it? Helps us to honour our loved ones I think. Sending you love xx

  3. Pamela
    July 14, 2014

    Beautifully written and very moving piece. How wonderful to have that kind of a relationship with your mum…Hopefully it will help others who are facing a similar situation. Keep on posting!

    • Angela Wilson
      July 14, 2014

      Ah, thank you Pamela! I would love to be able to help others by talking about my experience…my Mum would have loved that too! Thanks for commenting…really appreciate it

  4. Ceri
    July 14, 2014

    We are never the same after we have lost one or both of our parents, for me both. Not a day goes by when I don’t yearn to speak to them just one last time, to say the things I didn’t get to say in time. But I agree with you that the only way to cope is to focus on the good bits…I am so glad for you and your family that your mum had a good end. You know when they say “sometimes When I open my mouth my mum comes out”? Yes! Bring it on and proud to be the daughter of such a strong and capable woman. Thanks, Mum! And thank you Angela for sharing x

    • Angela Wilson
      July 15, 2014

      Yes!! Absolutely get you with the opening the mouth thing, Ceri…I also find it happens with my thoughts too – find myself thinking in her words…which always makes me laugh!…I’m so sorry you’ve lost both your parents but it sounds like you carry them with you in many ways. Know it’s not the same as having them right there, but I love the fact I get to talk to Mum wherever I am now….and probably look like a right weirdo in the process! Thanks so much for commenting and sharing too Ceri – and here’s to our loved ones! x

  5. Nadine Chadier
    July 14, 2014

    I really love your moving yet sunny posts Angela. My grand-mother is 101 and in great form, but reading what you write somehow helps me to prepare for the inevitable to come! You give me hope that even in that moment, there will be something to cherish!

    • Angela Wilson
      July 15, 2014

      Thanks so much for commenting Nadine…and how wonderful your grandmother is 101…wow! What a woman! I’m so glad I might have given you some degree of hope that – as you say – when we lose a loved one, there is still plenty of joy to celebrate and remember! Thanks again! x

  6. Fiona
    July 15, 2014

    Oh Angela. This was the most beautiful piece of writing. I hope it was therapeutic for you. I can tell how much you must miss your mum and just how much you want her to be dancing and singing with you now. I cried along with everyone else reading this I’m sure, and wish you such love and peace. Big hug and some wonderful high notes xxx

    • Angela Wilson
      July 15, 2014

      Ha ha….your wonderful high notes are ever so gratefully received Fiona!!…and yes, I wish my mum was still here showing off how she can high kick better than me! Thanks so much for such a lovely comment, so glad you liked it….and love and peace right back atcha! xx

  7. Rob
    July 17, 2014

    Those fleeting moments that become our ‘light’, our positivity and enable us to move forward and not just survive losing a loved one but to thrive and grow and truly honour them. Angela, you’re an amazing writer and I relate to it 100% having lost my Dad many years ago. I constantly find myself thinking or behaving as he once did … and I couldn’t be prouder. I’ll never get over his death but it taught me how to really appreciate those things that really matter in life and helps me stay connected with reality, which in turn has given me peace and happiness. Your strength, insight and positivity are admirable – I’m sure your Mum is seriously proud of you.

    • Angela Wilson
      July 17, 2014

      Rob – thanks so much for your lovely, thoughtful comment and sharing your thoughts about your Dad. I love your idea that we not only survive but thrive …in their honour! It’s so nice to hear that you also recognise how much the experience gave you, as opposed to the other way around. Let’s be honest – we’d both prefer them here, but how lovely we can take something so important from them. Because of them!! So lovely to e-meet you and hear your story too, Rob. Thanks!

      • Rob
        July 18, 2014

        Absolute pleasure to read your posts and e-meet you too Angela. We seem to share a lot of views about life, humanity and the realisation that it’s positivity that takes us forward. Above that though, we share the fact we were brought up by wonderful human beings whose love, teachings and example are still a major part of our lives. Angela, I’d love my Dad to still be here too but I feel you’ll share the sentiment that I ‘Thank God I shared my life with him, even though it was a short time, and didn’t waste years and years with someone else!! You helping others through your posts shows me you’re a good person Angela and is probably the best testimony to your Mum. Keep making her proud and hope you get everything you need in Life Angela – Peace , Love and Happiness. Rob

        • Angela Wilson
          July 21, 2014

          Rob – for some reason I’ve only just seen your lovely reply!…Such beautiful words about your Dad, my Mum and life in general. And yes, I absolutely agree 100% with you. Sometimes people say that I’ve been unlucky over the past few years, but I genuinely disagree – I feel utterly blessed for my life and to have been lucky enough to have had such a wonderful Mum who taught me what love really meant! All the very best to you too Rob!

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