Monday, 17 January 2011

A Quiet and Deep Remembrance

Today, the 18th of January, my life changed. Seven long and oftentimes arduous years ago, my mother died. It had been a very snowy and cold week and I had been suffering from flu. I did not move from my flat -just followed a monk's regime of hot teas, light foods and uncomfortable silence. I believe now that my body was keenly aware of something huge and it was clearing the path, so to speak. By Saturday, I was feeling much better and it was cold and sunny out. I decided to check in with my mother who was on her own in Vermont. She reveled in the company of her wise and active Jack Russell named Saucy and the many birds hungry and fluffed up from the below freezing temperatures. Our local grey squirrels were hanging upside down on wind-blown feeders clinging to each rung feverishly. We spoke for over 45 minutes and she was cheered. At the end of the call, I said," You know just how much you are loved". She shyly laughed and said "yes, I believe I do". And those were our last words.

On Sunday, I decided that I was strong enough to go to work for a few hours and trudged my way in. It was biting cold and grey. The snow was deep-it had snowed the night before and it was still dusting the landscape. At 3 and,after 3 brave customers, I was told I could go home. I was exhausted and took a nap just to be interrupted by a phone call. It was my brother and he sounded both troubled and deeply serious. He told me what had happened that morning between 10 and 11 am and my life has not been the same since. A patch of black ice on our familiar route had not melted and my mother careened over it on her way to church. I felt like a tall glass with freezing water being poured into every cell and, from then on, events ocurred in an automatic blur.

There was no-one to feed the birds or chase the squirrels across the snow dunes around her house. The lonely fox that loped in the view no longer had reason to stop.The warm and loving bustle of my mother had been replaced by lifeless grey that starved everyone who knew her. The house was kind and lovely, but eerily neat. Saucy had been taken to stay with dear neighbours and it was q.u.i.e.t.

I will never forget the 18th which, that year, fell on Martin Luther King's birthday and I was comforted by that. This year is the beginning of the seventh year without my mother in real and tangible form. But she is here and a candle is lit so that she knows that there is warmth and love for her...And the birds are always taken care of.Bless you, Ma....always.


  1. Lovely post, Julia.

    One supposes it's best when these things happen quickly, rather than long and painful and lingering -- but it's never good, regardless.

    So strange how our lives often change in a single moment....

  2. thank you for sharing this Julia