Somewhere Over the Rainbow
My mum left us on Tuesday 27th July 2010, almost a month ago. She had been ill for a week and thought she had food poisoning. The symptoms didn’t seem to fit to either me or my dad but doing as mum wanted, we made little fuss. She didn’t want to see a doctor so we did as she wanted. But now, looking back, why oh why did we not just trust our instincts and call for one sooner, or an ambulance?
I saw her that day. In all my 30 years of life I had never known my mum not to get up and put on her make-up ready to face the day. That day she looked ill and wasn’t herself. I called for a home visit from the doctor, which I pretty much had to beg the receptionist for. I stayed with mum but seeing she was tired I left her to rest, not wanting her to feel the need to make small talk with me when it was probably the last thing she felt like doing.
I returned later when the doctor was there. He examined her and said everything was fine but because she’d got a swollen stomach he said he’d send a nurse to give her an enema and then see how she was after. Mum was relieved it appeared to be nothing serious. Again I left her to get some rest.
The next time I saw my mum was when paramedics were trying to get her up in the bathroom where she had collapsed whilst a nurse was with her to give her the enema. The detail of this and most of all, the look on mum’s face which told me what was going to happen is too painful to think about or speak of so I will leave this part out.
The paramedics would not allow me to go in the ambulance with her, which I know from experience they generally do. I looked the nurse in the eyes and said, ‘Is my mum going to live?’ All she said was to get to the hospital as soon as we could. We did and after queuing at the A & E reception we were shown in to a relative’s room. Again, not usually the norm and I wondered why they weren’t taking us straight to mum. I just wanted to see that she was okay, she was my mum, she had to be. It wasn’t possible she wouldn’t be okay.
A nurse came to clear some other people out of the relatives room and within minutes, a doctor and nurse came in, shut the door behind them. The doctor sat near my dad, the nurse sat next to me. I knew it was bad news. Mum was going to have to stay in hospital for a while/she’d had a heart attack but would be fine/got to stay in for tests/ broke a leg in the fall? I’d do anything to make any of these outcomes real but what was to come next are the words that deep down, for some reason, sixth sense or whatever, I suspected but had pushed the thought out of my mind.
The doctor started talking about how mum wasn’t breathing and her heart had stopped when she arrived at the A & E and that they worked on her for 3 minutes. Even though my mind must have understood what these words meant, I couldn’t comprehend them. Couldn’t comprehend how a future without mum was possible. I was still waiting for the ‘but she’ll be okay. Her heart started again and she’ll be fine.’ It never came. I turned to the nurse and asked, ‘Is my mum alive?’ She just looked at the doctor who said ‘I’m sorry.....’ I have no idea what he said next. I was numb. Dad broke down, I just sat there.
There would have to be a post mortem because the cause of death wasn’t clear. We were to call the coroner’s office in the morning.
The next bit is a blur but I remember making phone calls and people ringing and waiting for my brother and sister to arrive. By this time I still hadn’t shed a tear. Numb.
Someone, I think it was the same nurse, told us mum was in the next room and we could see her. I was still thinking we’d walk in and she’d be sat in a chair with a cup of tea and somehow I’d got it all wrong. I was the first to walk in, with dad behind me. I held her hand. Still didn’t shed a tear. Still numb.
My brother and sister came and we all went in together. I still didn’t shed a tear. Waiting for someone to tell me it had all been a bad dream or a sick joke.
I went in to see her again, my grandad was there this time. Mum’s dad, 88 years old. This time I cried and cried and tried to wake my mum up, somehow convinced if I tried hard enough I could wake her up. She didn’t wake up.
Eventually me, dad, my brother and sister went back to mum and dad’s and talked. Strange without mum there, in the chair she always sat in but still, incomprehensible in my mind that she never would be again.
My brother dropped me off at home. We talked for a while outside. Then into my house I went and I can’t remember anything else about that night apart from not being able to sleep at all because the scene from the bathroom and into the ambulance kept coming to the fore front of my mind every time I almost drifted off to sleep.
Somehow the next day I managed to give the coroner’s office all the information they needed about mum and in the coming days managed to arrange mum’s funeral, probably controlling much of what was decided even though I’m the youngest in the family. I was closest to mum and I felt best placed to do everything as I knew mum would want it herself.
The cause of death was aspiration pneumonia and a bowel obstruction which was a gall stone. Both total shocks to everyone, especially as the doctor had listened to mum’s chest with his stethoscope only a few hours before mum died and had apparently heard nothing amiss.
The funeral was the day before my little boy’s first birthday and I went to see my mum in the chapel of rest. She looked beautiful; at peace, relaxed and dignified. I know by this point it probably sounds ridiculous but I still had hope she was going to wake up.
The day was beautiful and somehow I managed to compose myself for the majority of it. We had Percy Faith’s ‘Theme From a Summer Place,’ played on entry and a version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ on exit. Two of mum’s favourites, because she is and also fitting for the occasion as although reflective songs, also cheerful and uplifting, which is exactly how mum was. This is when it got to me most and I never lifted my head when walking in or out of the church.
I struggle to see how life can ever be enjoyable again when I don’t have mum there to ring anytime to talk about any little thing, her unconditional love and happy face when I walked in to see her.
All the time I spent with her and now I would give anything, anything just to be with her again how we used to be, even for a minute. Just to make sure she knew how much I loved her.
But somehow I feel comfort. Mum has made me what and who I am, both physically, mentally and psychologically. She will always be with me in that way. I am her. She may not be here to see my little boy grow up but she is still looking after him, she showed me how.
Me and mum were soul mates, and our souls will stay entwined as one for infinity.