2 days ago a dear friend’s mother died. I had marveled at how close the two of them had been and watched as he cared for her in the most tender of ways. She had undergone a mastectomy 2 years prior and the outcome of her health always weighed heavily on his mind. I watched as he mourned her death with great anguish and spoke of the emptiness he would feel without her.
We cleave to our mothers as they were the first ones who saw us and gave witness to our being. They were the ones we could call no matter the hour or the day. They were the ones who were supposed to love us through thick and thin. However that is not always the case as with some the relationship with mothers can be tenuous and often leave feelings unresolved. Even in strained relationships, a mother’s death leaves a deep void.
The death of our parents makes us all orphans, a term my sister in law had used at the death of her mother in a hospital emergency room. We realize that we are up next. There is no longer a buffer between us and the grim reaper. For many of us that leaves a big pill to swallow. Our realistic mind knows we all will die one day but in the interim we hope against hope that maybe we will be the one to be immortal. We just cannot fathom our own mortality. We watch our loved ones bodies wither and the vibrant souls we once knew we feel are gone from us forever. Death scares us.
My friend was fortunate to be able to hold his mother the night before her death. He got to rub her hair and smell her skin. He got to tell her he loved her and take in any parting advice she had for his ears. He told me how difficult it was to watch her leave. He also knew how fortunate they both were as she was now free of pain and had died at home surrounded by her loved ones. We will all grieve the loss of loved ones and if we are fortunate, we will have made peace with the process. Early on in my career I had the good fortune to sit at the bedside of the dying as a hospice nurse. I got to be witness to last words, last thoughts and last regrets. I got to be present with others at the most vulnerable time of their lives, it’s physical ending. Sometimes we do not have the luxury of saying what we want to say or spending those precious moments as no one knows when death will come. Be it in the still of night or the brightness of day, with a rush of speed or a long journey into the unknown, it will come for us all.