The passage of time waits for no one. I knew it was coming. This anniversary of sorts. I knew it was coming and have given myself permission to cry and remember and cry some more.
She died on the cusp of November 11th and 12th. I am sure she took her last breath on November 11th, however, the people who apparently confirm that someone is indeed, dead, arrived at midnight and pronounced her completely expired by 12:07 on November 12th.
I can’t help but think of the Monty Python parrot sketch every single time I recount the event of her passing and know for sure that Mum is having a hearty chuckle recognizing that her dark humour most certainly rubbed off on me. If I had my full senses at the time, I may even have tried out a few lines on the people who deem one no longer for this world, exclaiming in a very poor Cockney accent ‘She’s not dead-she’s sleeping! She’s jus’ resting!”! To have seen their reaction would have been brilliant.
Before I wrote her obituary for the newspaper (which, on another note, nobody seems to read nowadays and will one day be a thing of the past with my grandchildren tut tutting to their children that in the olden days, previous generations gave a rats ass about this planet we live on and destroyed copious amounts of forests all for their own selfish reading pleasure) I had a decision to make.
Did I write that she passed away on November 11th, Remembrance Day? Or did I write that she passed away on November 12th?
Silly, I know. But at the time it was important to me. My thoughts were that if she shared November 11th with all the other men and women who are remembered for their service , that somehow her passing would get lost in everyone else’s sadness and grief. How was I to know that an anniversary of a death was nothing compared to the daily grief I would endure?
I know it was an unreasonable thought, not wanting to share this particular day-maybe even shameful in some bizarre way. But I felt that way at the time. To be honest with myself, I knew very well that she was bereft of breath probably at 11:40 (give or take a minute). I would know. I was laying beside her. I felt every muscle as they gave way; heard every struggling breath. And then, silence. For an eternity.
I lay with my face pressed against her frailness, not ever wanting to open my eyes. It was like watching a horror film that you never wanted to watch in the first place-eyes squeezed shut, hoping the scariness would be over soon. But knowing…dreading..the reality that this was not a movie I could switch off or walk out of a theatre from.
I lay there. Not knowing the time. Then very slowly I slid away from her, almost dripping my body off of her hospital bed like a tear might slide down a cheek. I moved to the farthest end of the room averting my eyes until I could no longer bear my lack of courage and so casually, I brought my gaze to her still, lifeless little form.
There was a large clock behind her bed. It reminded me of the kind of clock that we had in every classroom when I was in school. I then briefly recalled reading an article that stated schools no longer had clocks nor did they teach telling time in analog. I thought that was a shame. I could hear Mum’s voice whole heartedly agreeing with me saying that it was an abomination to remove clocks! What was the world coming to?!
The clock had a silver frame surrounding its large, yellowish face. The hour hand pointed to the 11 and the minute hand hovered just past the 10. The second hand was red; it wound slowly and methodically round and round. It was 11:52. On November 11th.
But as I said, the declaration of deceasedness (a new word I conjured up just for the occasion) came sometime after midnight. So there we have what was, my conundrum.
I chose the 12th. Not because it was true, but because I didn’t want her obituary to say November 11th. I wanted to have Remembrance day kept as it always was. Remembering those who had sacrificed their lives. I share the pain of loss with all who remember on November 11th. And then, I have another day…that is all my own. But then again, I have every night to see her in her in my dreams and every new day to remember her laughter…
‘WAKEY, WAKEY POLLY!’.
‘This parrot wouldn’t Voom if you put 10,000 volts through her’!
Yes, I can hear you laughing Mum…(don’t pee on your angel outfit).