I heard this many, many years ago at a relative’s funeral and never really understood what it meant. I thought it was just a crusty old vicar being bitter. However, when we lost our son Simon in 1991, it took on a sinister meaning for me – everyone else just carried on as normal with no apparant regard for our little family unit suffering such grief and turmoil. It took us some years to climb out of that hole. But this time honored phrase has taken on a new meaning over the last few days once again.[private_basic]Some of you who have tried to contact me over the past few weeks will know that my Mum was taken into hospital in Swindon early in May. Mum had been suffering from alzheimers for a few years and had got to the point where whe didn’t recognize anyone at all. Despite this she was Mum and if it weren’t for her, my brother, sister and I wouldn’t exist. As her condition deteriorated I started doing the long round trip to visit more and more frequently. She was released from hospital back to the nursing home in Marlborough in mid-June but went down hill very quickly. My brother Steve, my wife Sue and I were privilidged to be sat with Mum last saturday evening as she finally passed peacefully away.
Sitting with her in the final hours gave us a lot of time for reflection. How short life is. How much time we all waste worrying and complaining and arguing amoungst ourselves while our life force slowly, steadily, drips away from us.
My first thought afterwards was that we are now orphans. There is no backup plan for life. I no longer have a mature parent to talk to, to ask advice about stuff, to laugh with, to get mad with. This was a huge realization. When Dad died 13 years ago we all focused on helping Mum through her loss; it seemed to help our own grief. Now there was no-one. My wife has been brilliant but I have had more comfort from talking to Steve than anything else. We shared a moment as Mum passed that our sister missed. It was a serene event. I feel it has brought me closer to my brother than ever and I worry about his health as he deals with the funeral arrangements, the funeral directors, the adverts, the registrars, the wake. People are pressing him from all sides – include this, don’t forget that, have you done, have you rung, have you thought, have you asked…
Why is he taking this on? Mum moved to wiltshire near to him and we are based in Leicestershire, 5 to 6 hours in the car each time we visit. I help with what I can but he has to see these things through. He still has to earn a living and his business is a tremendous strain on him at the best of times.
Apart from our family though, people are kind enough to express their condolences, but it doesn’t really touch them the same way. They still have their lives, their businesses, their worries, their concerns – so for them, life goes on untouched.
I don’t mind this now. When Simon died I wanted the whole world to hurt as much as I did. Now I accept clients still need servicing, jobs need completing, deadlines need to be met, and the funeral is slotted in as best we can to suit those who want to pay their respects. Most people don’t really know what to say. If they haven’t yet been touched by the darker side of life and lost a loved one, they just don’t understand. If they have lost someone, they do understand but they have already moved on and expect the same from us.
Death and taxes – the two inevitables in life that touch everyone.
People are leaving this mortal coil every second of every day. Newly bereaved people are starting the same journey I am on so I am not alone with my thoughts. But I wonder if they are thinking the same as me… Make every minute of every day count… Don’t waste a moment of this life we have… Live every minute and love every minute. It is easy to say.
It takes a bereavement to help us focus on what is important in our life, the things, the people, the memories.
Please don’t waste another moment. None of us know when we will get the “call” to go. It will almost certainly be incovenient, unwanted and unexpected. Will you be able to look back on your life as you leave and feel happy you achieved your goals, loved to busting those who are important and lived every moment like it was your last? Or will you be like I was before Mum left, not even realizing that my life was slipping away and mostly being wasted on unimportant trifles?
I know which final thoughts I want now and I will make sure I try and live up to that for as long as I can.