Remembering mum

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Well here we go.  One year on.  365 days ago today mum passed away leaving a big hole and a lot of questions, some of which I don't think will ever be answered.  I still hear her call my name.  I still don't understand why I didn't go straight away.  Tonight I raised a G&T and said a few silent words.  I miss her so much.

I was working in a horrible job as a night support worker for the elderly and infirm.  I would basically sit in a room in an old folks home from 11pm until 7am waiting for the phone to ring.  When it rang, we would need to drive somewhere in the Oban area and clean up mess.  Bodily mess.  It wasn't pleasant.  The fact that the phone rang three times in three months was both a blessing and a curse.  Sit in a room all night, or wipe someones arse.  It was torture.

On one such occasion I came home at 7am nearly in tears.  I'd had enough.  No friends, no social life, no contact with girls, living with my mum at 31 years of age.  My face had developed a massive outbreak of acne not seen since my teenage years, possibly as a result of working a night shift, possibly as a result of my massive change of diet and 5x2 sessions per week of weights and cardio in the gym.  This due to a vain pressure to look decent with my shirt off at an American summer camp in June.  I was manically depressed.  No sunlight, no vitamin B, horrible face and body spots, knocking back disgusting weight gain milkshakes, terrible job, not earning or saving enough money for the US and generally feeling sorry for myself.  A heated discussion with mum ensued.

I woke around 7pm, and as usual switched on the laptop to see if anyone was thinking about me.  I remember streaming the Manchester UTD Vs Manchester City derby when mum called out. 

"Stuart!"

"Yeah!  Hang on!  I'll be there in a bit."

I continued to watch the game.  As usual the lazy kid who doesn't come when their parents call.  How many times I let my dinner go cold I'll never know, too busy on my Super Nintendo.  It must have been ten minutes before I went downstairs to find her lying on the kitchen floor.

I'm first aid trained until it's coming out my ears.  I like to think I'd know what to do in an emergency, but this was different.  This was mum.  I grabbed the phone, stabbed 999 and gave the required information.  The woman on the end of the line told me to disregard everything I'd learned, and give 600 chest compressions to two rescue breaths.  It didn't feel right, I was afraid I would hurt her.  I'd only ever done this on a plastic dummy.  Nonetheless I started the resuscitation, trying to keep a tail wagging Jack out the way of what was going on.  I broke her ribs and couldn't get any signs of life.  I kept going until I was exhausted, then I kept going some more.

Twenty minutes went by before help arrived, the voice on the line informing me two ambulances had pulled up outside.  I raced to open the door, and was nearly bowled over by the team that flew in.  They went to work, I dragged the dog away and provided more light by ripping a lamp down from upstairs.  Then I walked out the front door and blasted through the first cigarette I'd had in 5 months.  It did little to control my shaking hands.

They decided to make a break for the hospital, some fifteen miles from home.  I followed in the second ambulance, hunched forward, sobbing my eyes out and damning myself that I didn't go when she called.  Within 5 minutes of reaching A&E, a doctor approached with that kind-sombre look everyone dreads.  After twelve months of Chemotherapy to beat Hodgkin's disease, losing her hair and wasting away, she was in remission, and the future was looking a little brighter.  Mum was gone before she hit the ground.

There are five stages of grief, according to renowned psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  Anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  They don't always come in that order.  I cried the night my dad died, I cried the night my mum died.  The day I made the decision to have our dog put down and held his head in my hands as he went, I was inconsolable.  After three days, the dust settled, and I became the man I am today.  For better or worse.  Yet I still can't help but think things would have been different if I'd gone downstairs sooner, and I wish our last words were not spoken in anger due to my own selfishness.  I don't think I'll ever be at peace with that.

Still the world turns, and they would want me to be happy and doing the things I most loved to do in life.  It's better they are with each other somewhere, although I don't necessarily believe that, it gives comfort yet through the darker times.  Mum certainly would never been the same after the loss of dad, and she always said when she goes this is the way she would want it.  Perhaps then this was the only way it should or could have been.  There isn't a day goes by though where I wish I had just one moment to say I'm sorry, I love you, and I promise I'll always come as soon as you call.  I would have had a lot more hot dinners that way.




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