Death can bring a new lease on life

Sometimes the brightest light comes from the darkest place. When I first heard that phrase I loathed it, although I love the song and most everything else by Wayne Hussey, but lately I’ve been thinking that maybe it can be true.

My mother’s recent death devastated me. I’m still not over it, although it is getting better. Just yesterday I found her artificial sweetener used for tea and coffee in the cupboard and remembered how much I miss her curry. She made it differently to everyone else, having learned an old fashioned technique of dissolving curry powder in a little vinegar from her grandmother. The end result is that all other curry tastes powdery to me while hers was stronger, since the spices permeated deep into the meat. All this, I got just from opening the kitchen cupboard. There are so many little things that trigger sad (and sometimes fond) memories for me lately.

But there is one positive thing that has now come out of her death… I realize that I’d lost my way a little, in terms of my priorities – lost sight of what is important. Though I try to be a good parent to my son, lately I didn’t have enough energy left for him after going to work too early, and putting too much of my life into that. Work is a necessary evil. But putting everything into it? Putting your all into a job that enriches others where you get underpaid and a pat on the back for making them millions, but a reprimand for human error, putting in your all to be treated like little more than a slave… that’s no good.

I’ve reached a point where it is clear what is important. And what isn’t.

My son is important. He is the most important part of my life. I’d like to be there for his sister too when I can, but I’m not going further into that today. The point I’m trying to make is that family is important. Our loved ones should be our focus. Our time with them is limited and we need to make the most of the time we have. Treasure every moment because it can end at any time, and don’t waste personal time being a slave to anyone else making their fortune.

I’m not saying work isn’t important. It is. I will redouble my efforts to ensure that my work is the highest quality, and remain as helpful as I can to those with whom I work, but only within certain boundaries. The purpose of work is to earn money to survive, to finance my personal life. If work crosses over that line and interferes with my personal time, it has defeated its purpose.

From now on, my focus is on my family.

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Alone

I’m alone in my flat, after taking Josh to school. I have three more days leave, including this one. Alone and bored, I played Diablo 3 some more, and my new character I mentioned the other day is now cruising through Torment 6 difficulty, ready to go to Torment 7. But I’m taking a break from playing to write.

A commenter, having read one of the posts about my mother, asked if we were unusually close, and how that came to be… I answered that having her live here brought us closer, but come to think of it, it’s more than that…

Is it not normal to be closer to one’s mother than one’s father? When my father died, it crushed me for a time, but not like this. This is much worse. When I think back, I have many happy memories of childhood. I had a good childhood. And almost every happy memory involves my mother. She was always there for me. She wasn’t perfect, to be sure. Those times when I misbehaved, she would give me a light hiding, one that I learned did not hurt, and would warn me that my father would be mad when he got home that night. But all he ever did was ask me to apologize to my mother. When we went through her things, I found an apology letter I’d written to her when I was about eight years old. She kept it all those years.

So we were always close. I was always able to talk to my mother, about anything, and while my father loved me and I loved him, he was always a little distant. It was to my mother that I went to talk about anything and everything that troubled me.

Ironically, there is only one other person that got as close to me, and that person is Megan – my ex and Josh’s mother. I would have loved to talk to her these last few weeks, but her phone has been off again and I suspect that something in her life is wrong (again). I have spoken to Aishah, Josh’s sister though, when she visited her grandmother. I will get back to this point further on…

Even Josh has raised this subject, not about her, but about mothers. At school, his teachers always assume that every child has a mother, and when mentioning that anything must be given to parents, or discussed with parents, or that parents must be asked for money, they always mention the children’s mothers. This annoys him, because he only has me. But it does highlight the fact that mother normally plays a greater role than father to most children.

So returning to my empty flat was a miserable moment. My mind flashed back to so many memories… every day when I got home from work, she was there, and I was always greeted by the smell of food cooking. At other times like weekends, she’d be sitting on the balcony reading a book, or reading a book on her bed. Every second week I’d take her to the library. But after she died, I had to return her library books and tell the librarian that she’d died. Likewise I took her to her hairdresser once a month, and I went and told the hairdresser that she wasn’t coming back.

I miss all those conversations that we had, and all those that we will never have again. All the comments she made about my boss, when I came home late from work, kept in meetings that ran after hours, I miss those too.

I’ve come to realize that my mother became something more the last few years. After my relationship with Megan ended, after I spent years trying to make it work even though it could not, I lost all interest in dating and pursuing a relationship with anyone else. But I didn’t have to think about it. With both my mother and my son here, there was always company. There was an excuse not to date. I didn’t feel alone or lonely. Now, suddenly I am alone. Suddenly I have nobody to share those most private thoughts and words. It feels strange, and it hurts.

The cycle of sadness

Yesterday I apologized for writing another post about my mother on Facebook, and people replied not to apologize… One man even said he loved those posts because it expresses exactly how he feels about his mother who died six years ago. It’s weird how my most personal posts, the ones I at first expected to be ignored, are always the ones that people share the most and identify with. We aren’t that different after all. So maybe reading this can be as therapeutic as writing it.

I just made myself breakfast, and in the process discovered a large container of cereal that only my mother ate. Likewise there is a calcium supplement and some kind of Berocca, a brand name and also a supplement, laying on the kitchen counter. I have not been able to find the will to move or remove them.

Last week I finally arranged for a helper to come clean the flat, which seems weird because I have never in my life had a maid. That’s something my parents would do when I was a child. In the process of cleaning up, she found two cups in the fridge, one filled with leftover gravy and the other cheese sauce, because my mother had cooked a roast for us as usual that Sunday before she died last month. Those two cups are still in the drying up rack a week later. I have not the strength to remove them.

The above sums up how I have felt these last 4 weeks. I remain in shock. She died so quickly… every day I recall that last phone call to me at work when she told me the procedure that would be carried out in the hospital. I was to attend my work’s year end function, and had planned to leave early so that I could be on time for hospital visiting hours. My only worry was that she might go home before that, or be in transit while I left the work function. Her death, only two hours after that call, took me by such surprise, it remains fresh. Every day, I replay that call in my head. Every day I hear her voice telling me that the bronchoscopy had failed because she had an asthma attack, and that they would try to remove the fluid from her lung with a needle. Every day I relive the shock of her sudden death. I expected her to be home soon, and certainly before Christmas, and it’s like I can’t move forward… I’m stuck in December 7th 2018, reliving those hours over and over again.

Tomorrow Josh starts grade 5. I must still iron his clothes and get fresh bread so that I can prepare lunch for him. I’ll be on leave still the rest of this week, and must also call Harold, who runs his lift service, to say I will drive Josh to and from school the rest of the week. I must also find out about aftercare, since my mother no longer being here means I can’t let Josh come home and be alone while I am at work (from next week onwards). I may have to cancel the lift service completely, and then leave early from work every day to collect him from school in future. As with everything else, I think of these things, the practical things to do today. But then later I will remember to be sad again. It’s a cycle I’m repeating… distract myself with everyday life and menial tasks, then my thoughts wonder back to that phone call, or something else, some random object triggers a memory, and the cycle of sadness repeats.

I have more to write, lots more, but will save it for another day.