Today is a poignant day.
Five years ago today I got the 5 am phone call to say that my mother had died. By itself that was not a surprise, the end had been inevitable for some time. Perhaps due to the distance of where I lived compared to those dealing with it daily, I knew very early on in her illness that she wasn’t beating it this time. She’d beaten cancer twice in the previous 20 years, but this time, although she said all the same positive words I’d known immediately that she didn’t believe them herself.
My reaction at the time may seem strange. I was annoyed. I’d been due to set off only an hour or so later to go and see her. I knew it would be the last goodbye. She cheated me of that. From the way she behaved the evening before we’re convinced she deliberately chose to switch off so that I didn’t have to see her so frail and vulnerable. Yes, she had a mind that could warp reality around her and no one who knew her doubts that’s what she did.
It’s telling that the lack of closure 5 years ago means I can still feel annoyed when anniversaries such as this come around. Fortunately it’s never consumed me, it’s just one of those points in life you look back on with regret when the occasion arises.
There’s one other aspect of her death that does still rankle and I find it a bit odd that I can even contemplate putting it here. She didn’t want a fancy funeral, she explicitly stated that the only people she wanted to attend were my father and myself.
With me being 100 miles away the funeral arrangements were left to my father. After talking to him during that week, I knew he wouldn’t be attending, but I was determined to do so. I knew the day, but not the time or location. He withheld that information until the time had passed by to ensure I couldn’t be there.
Out of all the things in this life I could hold him to account for, this is one I can never forgive him. Between the two of them they robbed me of the opportunity for closure, to say goodbye.
None of this consumes me, just that on such an anniversary it can leave me a little reflective and raw.