coping with death
I thought about death almost hourly. I knew in my heart that at any given moment I could lose my mum. I also understood that at any moment I could drop dead, and that isn't the nicest thought to have with your Weetabix.
Your beloved cats don't come to you on the bed, so I hear. The one called Little Sock does not part from your mother's side. Perhaps they give you space. Perhaps they have started to let you go. Your mother says she is strong, now, but does not know about after... how she will cope. She will be 80 next month. Her only child is dying.
Five days after my 21st birthday my entire world changed. My Mum; the strongest, most vulnerable, most important woman I'd known, was dead. It was the worst day of my life, but it also caused me to finally confront all my demons, and start moving forward from them.
There is little doubt that losing a beloved pet can leave a massive hole in a family's life. Unlike the death of a human family member, which understandably attracts a huge outflow of sympathy, love and care in both actions and words, the death of a pet can be bewildering for other reasons.
"Dad had an accident." At this point, I prayed so hard her next words weren't what I feared they would be. "Dad's died." I screamed, making a noise that had never come out of my body before. David was sitting on the bed. I ran through the balcony doors and told him dad was dead.
Last week I had 7 days of flat drama dealing with a broken boiler, leaking radiators, my windows very much proving their age and a my lounge ceiling collapsing wildly onto my wooden floor at 2am as a result of some dodgy plumbing in the flat above. Oh and the lovely sofa I had excitedly waited 8 weeks for finally arrived - and then had to be sent back as it wouldn't fit through the door!
You secretly weep when you see pregnant women, as it's a reminder of what you no longer have. However if you envy that woman, it's always tinged with guilt, as you are acutely aware that she might be one of the one in four- expecting a baby following loss.
I am an outgoing, lively person who stands up for herself, at times a force to be reckoned with, so how could I let myself be bullied for six years? To compound the issue the bully in question died and I have felt obliged to honour and defend his memory ever since. And that is twenty long years.
The toughest thing is doing all this alone, not alone in the sense that there is no one around me, but alone in the sense that I'm not complete without Claire. We faced these trials in life together, it was always 'Mark and Claire' - that was how we lived.
You see, we all have assumptions about how our future will pan out. Because I work as a coach and help others create their future by setting a life goal I had also done this for myself. My goal was extremely compelling, I lived it and breathed it everyday and it was all for my wonderful wife. Take that motivation away and everything seems to fall apart.