“A daughter without her mother is a woman broken. It is a loss that turns to arthritis and settles deep into her bones.” ~ Kristin Hannah
“She’s gone,” said Jenny, the nurse.
I knew she was gone … had been mentally preparing myself for nine months.
A gestation, growth and transition I didn’t want to acknowledge.
I stared, wet eyes, at her still blue orbs.
Empty. Like a vacated house. She was really gone.
It was 2:30 pm. Thoughts moved to my son who would soon be home from school. My sweet, 11-year old boy who’d shared a home with his mother and grandmother - “Oma” - since infancy. My heart broke twice.
Sobs wracked my body as Jenny steadied my shoulders with merciful hands.
I had no language for my grief. No frame of reference.
My brother was 36,000 feet in the sky, a mercy dash … dashed. I waited for his call upon landing in Singapore to change planes. I felt fractured.
The phone rang a hideous plea.
“How is she?,” he said.
“I’m so sorry honey … she’s gone.”
At the moment of her death, my brother felt such agitation that he rose from his seat and paced the aisles like a cat in captivity. He later said, “I knew then … I felt it.”
My son came home and sat next to his Oma, his grief palpable.
“Why are her eyes open?” he asked.
In truth, I had no answer. We see stories on the screen of eyelids ritually lowered by a disembodied hand. Nurse Jenny never made any attempt to disturb her features.
But in that tiny moment, I felt deep happiness. The previous day my son had pleaded with me to stay home: “Please Mum, can I stay home with Oma?” he cried.
“No, you have to go to school … life continues …,” I responded.
“Please Mum!” his plaintive refrain.
I relented. “OK, but you need to look after Oma, bring her water, stay close.”
“Yes, Mum,” he beamed.
I’m so happy that he spent that last day and night with his beloved grandmother.
That was ten years ago.
And not a day goes by that I don’t think of her or am reminded of her in myriad ways.
A number plate … an eagle … a butterfly … a Dutch accent … an expression.
She was my greatest inspiration and supporter. I can feel her pride when I touch The Little Black Book of Verse. Her spirit echoes throughout my work. How could it not?
She brought me into the world … I held her as she departed from it.