'Time and place / as elusive as air / as solid as this ground / I stand on. / Here, where I am placed / at any one time'.
Saturday, 4 October 2014
Black Swan Gliding
black swan; Sinclair Wetlands
Over the past few months after my mother's death, I jotted down some of the random thoughts that occurred. Here are a few of them:
When Your Mother Dies
It feels like my tendons have been cut.
I feel disconnected from what used to be normal
When my mother died, an integral part
of my world died too
Mum's death is the biggest one yet. My
dream of a tsunami – the biggest and highest one I've ever dreamed
- is an indication of this. “Look, it's as high as the Longwoods”.
It's a sudden cold wind / that chops at
the waters where memory harbours / and tugs at the rope that tethers
and steadies. / It is a grey slap of grief that rocks the heart.//
The grief I feel is a primal grief. A
child's for its mother. Deeply sub-conscious, one can never prepare
oneself for it.
It's a subterranean yearning for the
return of that safety a parent provides. It is wanting the world that
a parent has created for you, to be restored.
My sense of place has been profoundly
Sadness overwhelms because I miss my
mother's presence in the world. It seems that nothing can mend the
rough, torn hole she left behind her when she left us.
The grief comes in waves.
Is it cataclysmic when a parent dies?
It feels like it. Or am I going all weather-news reporter?
The trick is to calm the pain of
death's finality and its unbearable sense of separation, with any
present joy provided by those nearest who are vital; still very much
When your mother dies you become a kid
again. No matter how old you are. A kid whose mother has left them
and who just wants her to come back. A kid with an adult's
realisation of death's finality with no buffer of innocence or
ignorant bliss to protect against the crush of grief that keeps
I create a timeline. She's a slim,
young woman twenty-five years old, with curly red hair – my very
earliest memories of her. Then a less slim mother of seven children,
who cooked, baked, sewed and gardened. Who fed the hens. Hung out the
washing with wooden clothes pegs. Who sang as she worked. Who was
harassed and crabby just about as often as she was fun. Then as a too-young widow at 38 years old, she was like a crying child needing her own parents to lean
on. Later, a grey-haired nana. Still later, a friend on the other end
of the phone, making me laugh. Finally an old woman, a great-grandmother, more daunted,
moving more slowly, feeling tired but with her sense of humour still
intact, still doing crosswords, visiting Facebook daily and undeniably, still my mother
Things start to draw in a crowd of
memories. The clock. The yellow bed jacket.