I am someone who needs to know, however bad it is, I need you to tell me the truth and not gloss it up or wrap it in pretty packaging, just the harsh reality, the naked truth.
When Mama was in hospital I looked the senior doctor in the eye, his name was George, tall, dark and handsome of Greek descent and asked him to tell me the truth, however bad, I could take it. And he respected that and said he would want the same. So he gave it to me.
It would take a miracle for your mother to pull through. Miracles do happen but …
When I had to make the difficult decision of whether to fly back to work or stay till the bitter end I asked the consultant how imminent and her advice that I should stay answered my question. In the end I did the right thing. It would have been a lifelong regret and I would have been plagued with guilt.
Weird but I always envisaged I would get that phone call in the middle of the night from my sister and be numbed. In reality it happened very differently. I was there at her bedside with the Prodigal Son whom she hadn’t seen for years and the Favourite Daughter who was always there came too late. Ironic, or what? The Black Sheep and the Prodigal Son there when Mama needed us most. The Model Daughter needed her beauty sleep and was allergic to hospitals; it brought out a rash on her face.
Being there for Mama’s last breath was priceless. At the end I hadn’t let her down, though I have felt that way from my first breath. Part of the reason why I had stayed away and not been there for her as much as I should have. My excuse, I had my own issues and health problems and then there was always the ‘Not good enough cos I am not a boy’ brick wall between us and feeling unloved and inferior.
Why is it that wisdom always comes too late after loss; my marriage, Mama, career, siblings …?
I don’t know how we got onto the topic of mums but A came out with the wisest and most mature of comforting words which took my breath away, considering she’d just turned six. I told her my mum had just passed away and that was why I’d been away so long and tears were threatening to stream down my cheeks. She looked me in the eye and said, ‘Don’t be sad, it is all part of nature, when you die your daughter will cry too.’ Wow. The kid is too young to have encountered the death of a close family member, so where that philosophical acceptance of the cycle of life comes from is a mystery.
Sometimes truth and wisdom come out of the mouths of babes with such clarity and purity that they speak directly to your heart.