Tuesday, February 28

Thoughts on Death, and Dying.

This is not really to be a dark post, I hope.

Over the past months, since Gom died, I have had much time to dwell on the subject. It seems my mind got trapped in a timewarp, and I was unable to stop re-running our lives together in the past.

The reality of his having gone, and never coming back, was too much for me to accept, somehow. My whole life seemed to be meaningless,  and platitudes such as those given by well meaning friends and professionals, held no comfort. In fact they only seemed to rub salt into wounds I could not bear.

To try to make this lighter, I have interspersed it with some meaningless~or maybe not so meaningless~ pics.
So, if you dont feel like reading, just look at the pics. They represent life, and fresh hope.
 This is my current crop of parsely, a measly plant by comparison to previous crops, but nonetheless, delicious.
I am a great lover of herbs, and most of my meals contain some of one type or another.

On with the thoughts of Death.
When my mother died, fifteen years ago now, I felt I could never recover from my loss. Of course, you never do 'recover',  you just learn to live with the loss and the grief. Your mind adjusts to the fact that the person is no longer here. Her memory lives on inside me, and I hear her voice daily, and often see her face.

Before her death, I was lucky enough to be able to stay with her and take care of her at her home. She had had a dread of a 'Home' or Hospital, and so we enjoyed much time together, talking of old days and reminiscing about family and our life events.

When she got closer to dying, (though I did not realise at the time how little time she had left,) she began to have a series of dreams. I will not retell those dreams here, but I know they brought her great comfort ~and indeed, wonder, about death. Like me, she had been an Atheist all her life, but somehow the dreams would appear to contradict her beliefs. I know there is an explanation, but I won't discuss that here.

She began to retell the story of her life, she told me, and wondered if she was keeping me awake at night, with her voice. She said she retold her school days, and her life with her brothers when they were children. She told stories of her beloved father and mother, and I do believe she moved on as the timeline of her life had moved on.

I did hear her talking, but had not realised it was the story of her life, she was telling, or I would have gone to listen. Much of her life had been very sad, and her joyous patches mostly revolved around her family, children, and later, her grandchildren. Many of her heartaches involved family too, as they do in everyone's lives.

This is a self sown Thyme plant, which grows beside the clothes line, and it often gets brushed by the clothes basket, and releases it's lovely aroma, so fresh and inviting.

When my mother became too ill to be at home, I spent every minute I could, at her bedside, and we sat vigil as she died. It seemed cruel that she had to die in a Hospital, but she was so ill, and at least we all spent as much time as possible with her.

Though my grief is endless, I could never wish her back, for my selfish sake.

This is a pic of seeds on a very lovely cream Clivia. I know if my sister-in-law were here, she could get these to grow, but with my brown thumbs, I would not even try. 
They do somehow represent life's longing to carry on, and reproduce itself.

After my mother had died, I had a craving for planting flowers and vegetables, growing things,  and had a fair success. It seemed as though it was a way of denying death, to be able to give, and succour life in some form. I was too old for more children, which is often the way we handle the finality of death.  I longed for another grandchild to hold and love, but it was not to be, at that time.

I thought of how Gom and I had reacted when his father died unexpectedly. We clung to each other, and our lovemaking was passionate, and desperate almost, as if to deny death. We absolutely cherished our children, and were comforted by their beings.

This is some delicious Smoked Salmon Bruschetta, prepared at home by my son. I made the balsamic reduction, for the dressing, and it was delicious. Perhaps not a 'delicious' looking dish, but it tastes divine. We use some basil and a little mint to add some zing.

Now, I come to Gom's passing. I thought I could never come to any sort of peace about his death. In the days before he died, he began to reminisce about 'the old days' and of our time together throughout the 45 years of our marriage. Occasionally I would become a little impatient, but then I began to be fearful, as I remembered my mother re-telling her life.

We had thought we had more time left together, but I wonder if some deep part of Gom knew that he was going, sooner, rather than later.

I still have patches of denial, I still have patches of almost unbearable grieving, and I know I always will. I have been lucky to have had a wonderful counsellor, who seemed to just lift a lot of my deep dark thoughts from me. I am not sure how, but we even had some deep laughs, in the course of our couselling sessions.

My son also convinced me to begin swimming, or Hydratherapy, really. I have found it astonishingly good for both my knee, and my spirit. At first I could not bear to talk to anyone.

I was asked if I would like to join the Arthritis Foundation. I recieved a very startled look when I said, emphatically, "No Thanks".

I am a non-joiner, and have lived long enough to know that that is OK. I have been that way for all my life, and am happy not to change now.

I don't want to stand waving my arms about above my head, like some gangly leafless tree! I dont want to do chicken clucking motions with hands in my armpits.

I am very happy, and well, doing my regular exercises for my knee, which have been so beneficial, I wish some bl**dy doctor had suggested it right from the start, after the operation.

I find I can now bear to talk to other swimmers, doing their exercises, and have even been told by a 'trainer,' or physiotherapist, that I give myself a good workout, and am doing well.  

A gentle sunset, which preceded one of the most lovely days of summer we have had. It was a nice weekend, with rare sunshine, and lovely warm temperatures, without the horrible humidity.

I know I will always grieve over Gom.

I do wonder at the human spirit which somehow craves to live, even when all seems impossible.
I do wonder at the strength which seems to come from nowhere, to help us perhaps, begin to live on.

I have even done a little cooking, and now... hope to sew again!

Rufus Wainwright, Across the Universe.


Molly said...

Great to hear you sounding so much more cheerful Meggie!

ancient one said...

I loved this post. You seem to be doing better all the way around. Glad the water exercise is hleping with your knee. Your pictures were interesting and the food dish looks wonderful. I hope each day just gets better and better for you!

Mary said...

I do love you our Meggie - with your gentle optimism that still shines even in the depths of your grief.


quiltmom said...

My dear Meggie,
I am glad to hear that you are enjoying the water therapy - it can be such a help and soothing to an aching knee.
I really enjoyed this reflective piece that you have written.
I know that my grandparents are with me even though they have been gone a long time now. My grandmother was a young grandmother- not quite 40 when I was born. I had her loving presence in my life until I was nearly 47 years old. I talked to her often and I miss her balming presence in my life. Sometimes I hear her voice in my head too. Perhaps it is the way that they live on in our memories.
I am not sure one ever recovers from a significant person's loss. Grief does not have a time line. Having said that, I also believe that we all have an inner resilence that helps us find our way back- not to what we were before but to a life that still can experience some of the joys of life.
Wishing you those little joys,
Warmest regards,

Tanya Brown said...

I got chills when you mentioned GOM's reminiscing. It's akin to the way we'll relish a good meal afterward, remembering the nuances of the entree and dessert. It's as though he was saying "Didn't we have some funny, tragic, bewildering times together? It's been good, and I'm sorry to be leaving you to go on without me."

Nadine said...

Thanks for this wonderful, touching post, dear Meggie.
Right now, I'm feeling too much moved and I don't know what to say, except THANK YOU, dear.
BIG (((HUG)))

Ali Honey said...

I'm sending you some happy thoughts and hugs Meg.
Balsamic reduction...Yummy!

Selina Kingston said...

I don't think grief ever leaves us but we find things that help us get through the days again until we eventually find that we are living life again...just differently to how we did before.
Still thinking of you and wishing you well x

Fi from Four Paws and Whiskers said...

How moving - and interesting the process you have been through. My parents are both elderly and I expect some of this will happen - hopefully not yet!

So glad to hear you write again and I hope each day gets a little easier for you.

Would love to do the hydrotherapy too for my knee - shame most of the pools here went in the earthquake! Hard to get into one on our side of town easily. Exercycling instead:)

Tanya said...

Thank you for including us in your inner thoughts.

Jennifer said...

As you said, your post is not dark......just thoughtful, as in full of thought. You have been dealt a blow, and it takes time to come to terms with that.
Your smoked salmon bruschetta looks really delicious!

Thimbleanna said...

A beautiful, heartfelt post Meggie. I do hope you can manage a bit of sewing. Busy hands and all.... It's hard to sew when one is so sad, but it sometimes helps to take your mind off of such sadness. Sending you big hugs!

The Sagittarian said...

Lovely post, Meggie. I sat with my darling dad while he died and he too gave up some wonderful stories, altho' towards the end it really didn't make sense to me but it seemed to bring him great comfort.
Take care of yourself on this journey of life!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I have been sad all day today, no reason why, just sad. I marvel at my friends who go on without their mates. It is so true that the grieving will always be there, but time makes it bearable. I ma thinking of you as you make your way through this and sending you a hug!

Angie said...

I miss you, Meggie, and was delighted with your post---sending hugs full of love to you and Honey...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for allowing us to share in your thoughts and feelings. I wish for you with the passing of time, less of the pain and more of the memories that bring joy.

persiflage said...

What a beautifully felt and expressed post, Meggie. I am glad that your life is becoming more bearable, and that your resilience is there to help you through the sad and darker feelings and times, and that you are finding your own ways to help you through this continuing experience. I share many of your feelings.

Marja said...

Some beautiful thoughts Meggie Wish you all the strength in your days learning to live with your loss. Nice that you have so many memories and yes we do receive strength. Kia Kaha Meggie

anne bebbington said...

Oh Meggie - I'm afraid it never does go away and it would seem like a betrayal if it did but as time goes on you develop a way to bear it, not necessarily all the time, after all sometimes the simplest silliest little thing will resurrect that all encompassing pain from the dull copable ache that hovers in the background, but in general it becomes more bearable and the remembering is less painful - I so hope for you that this is sooner rather than later and I send you my hugs and empathy xxx

Pauline said...

see what I miss when I am away - this is a lovely, hopeful post. I recognize a lot of what you've been going through and know if you keep on as you are, you will come to a new place that feels right. Keep on, Meggie.

Isabelle said...

And sympathy and best wishes from me too.

silverlight said...

Oh, lady, I know your loss. I just lost my husband in December. and everything you say, is how I feel and how my life is too.
platitudes only make it worse.
one has lost one's life and half their soul, when one;s heart is gone.
you say it so well.