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Expected but unexpected

It was just a matter of time – we all knew that.

But that doesn’t help

She was old – very old, even.

But that doesn’t help

She said she was ready to go – life, as she saw it, was done.

But that doesn’t help

The phone call that jerked us awake yesterday was a confirmation of an event about to happen, and yet just hearing the words “she is gone” left me struggling for breath, tears a thick wad in my throat. I loved her so much, she gave me so much, and now I worry that maybe I didn’t tell her just how much she meant to me. Did she know how I relied on her strength, on the way she could make me laugh at myself?

It was expected. But when it finally happens, it is just as unexpected as if it wasn’t expected. It is one thing to say that someone is approaching the end, another thing entirely to wake up to a world where they no longer exist. Only when it happens, do the emotions hit us. While we live in expectation of the event, we mostly shove it away into a corner of our mind, thinking we will always have tomorrow to whisper just how much we love and care. But one day, tomorrow is no more…

lupinerA person I respected is dead. A constant support, a person who loved me and liked me, who made me laugh and think. She raised four sons into admirable, loving men. She taught me to knit, to bake bread. She decorated her house with wild flowers, saying there was as much beauty in the dipping head of a grass straw as in a rose. In the early months of spring, I’d find her picking nettle shoots, and sure enough, dinner that night would be nettle soup. She saved me the marzipan decoration on her Easter cake, because she knew how much I liked it.

Of course we quarrelled – two determined women with strong opinions do. But mostly we didn’t, and now that she’s gone I feel as if something has been yanked out of me. She gave me a place in her family – an obligation, seeing as I married one of her sons. But she also gave me a place in her heart, a gift freely given and gladly received.

In her eyes, I was always good enough. She loved me for who I was, accepted my weaknesses and lauded my strengths. From her I learnt that the secret to being a good parent is to always remember we only borrow our children for some years, that at some point we must let them go and it is our obligation to do so, to trust that they will make their own way.

IMG_6031She is gone. I was touched by her and will always carry the gift of her love with me. Whenever I see a meadow of grass rippling in the wind, whenever I see the sun set over the sea, I will think of her, hoping that she is there with me, in the warm caress of the wind, in the last rays of the setting sun.

It was expected.

But that doesn’t help – not at all.

7 thoughts on “Expected but unexpected”

  1. Thank you Anna for sharing this sad but beautiful tribute to your Mother-in-Law. Like many others I too have been in a similar position though in my case it was my husband of 44 years. Losing our loved ones is an unsolvable mystery but an inevitable happening. I was so touched by the thoughts you have shared here, not only from your own heat but hers too. May you and your family gain peace and may she rest in peace.

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