I’m flying back to England this weekend for a funeral. My mother’s funeral. Well, she died, so it’s kind of the rule. It was entirely expected, of course, (more on this below) but when you do actually find out that somebody you care about has passed, it hits you even though you thought you’d done what you can to prepare for it.
Mind you, I’ve actually been getting on with things ok here. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so…remote from the whole thing, but I’ve been able to continue day to day. It might be different once I get back there but having gone through something similar before it’s been my experience that things don’t usually hit me for some time. Keeping busy helps.
It’s difficult when you’re aware that an end is coming. Mum told me back in May that she had decided to refuse treatment for her diabetes and other ailments. I was angry about it all for a week or so, but during that week I was able to figure out that the anger wasn’t at her decision – indeed, I think that everybody should have the right to decide their own fate, if that decision includes ending it – but it was more at her lack of care for herself over the previous few years.
People live with diabetes for decades. Looked after properly, it’s not a hugely difficult thing to handle. Sure, at some point you’re probably going to need some sort of dialysis, but there is enough information and help around that you can keep the worst of it from happening for quite some time. I always got the sense that my mother gave up on things as soon as she was diagnosed, as though digging her heels in and refusing to comply with medical advice would make the diabetes say “oh, right then – I’ll go somewhere else”. Of course, she had some mental health issues that didn’t do her any favours, and it’s likely that the bi-polar disorder (another thing she seemed to outright refuse help with) ended up being a contributing factor in her fast spiral towards such ill health. And you know, despite the fact that I had been so frustrated with her for years, it really doesn’t matter now. There’s no point to sitting here thinking “If only she had done this, or that”. I find that what I tend to think about is worrying that I had in some contributed to her making the decision.
I moved to the US ten years ago. It turned out to be a very good decision on my part, but I think it was hard for mum to see me gone, especially since not long after I left she divorced again (to be fair, I had asked about this and she told me everything was fine), and my sister had already departed to Australia for a year. Part of me can’t help but think that maybe if I was still in England and a bigger part of her life, she’d have felt she had more to live for. So there’s a certain element of guilt, even though I still think I had to make the right decisions for me – you can’t really be expected to live your life solely for the benefit of other people.
I’ve managed to make a life for myself here, and although it was a bit rocky for a few years, things now are pretty good. I like to think my mum would understand that and hadn’t borne me ill will since I left.
It still sucks, though.