For Posterity

I’m clearing out my external hard drive and found this, which I wrote not long after my mother’s death in 2000.


That isn’t you.

I stand here, looking down at you, lying peacefully in a state of eternal rest, your eyes forever closed against a world that has been so good to you, I know a moment’s anger.  I have tasted this emotion many times in the past few days.  Too many times.

That isn’t you.

The anger passes over into grief at the loss of you.

The grief returns to all shades of anger at the unfairness of it all.

Finally, the anger dissolves into resignation and reluctant acceptance.

I look at you again.

That isn’t you.

The face is wrong, the whole… being is wrong. What you were is no longer there and I do not know why.

This room is small, but careful decoration means that the oppressiveness of the situation and the unmistakable scent of preserved death is lessened. A lone candle burns brightly on the wall under a framed print of a verse which brings hot tears to my eyes.

 ‘All is Well’, it reassures me, calmly.  ‘All is Well’.

I look at you again.

That isn’t you.

I speak to you like I always have. Tell you how I will miss you, that I know life has to go on without you and that I will finally make you proud of me.

Placing the photographs of me, Stephen and Dad into your cold, lifeless hand, I feel the first true grief at the situation. When I lay down the photograph of your first and only grandchild, the grief becomes all pervading, threatening, a thing of fear.

I look at you again, and finally understand that there is nothing to fear. That you will never truly leave as long as I keep your memory alive.

Speaking my final farewell to you, I turn to leave the room and catch sight of myself in the reflection of the glass frame.

And I realise.

That’s you.


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