Life had another lesson to teach me…
Or was it death, that was trying to teach me something…?
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I was travelling back from a few days off.
I often use this time in the car to talk with people and that morning I called my mom to see how she was doing. Or just to hear her voice. With a serious distance between us, I don’t get to see her that often and the pandemic only made that even harder.
During the pandemic I heard a lot from folks living abroad and how they suffered being apart from their family. How hard it was to miss celebrations, let’s forget final goodbye’s.
When I reflected on that, I must admit, I often thought “what is the big deal”? You can call them, videocall even to stay in touch and it’s part of the expat life after all.
As mentioned, I called my mom yet she had (great)grandchildren visiting so we agreed it was better she would enjoy that first and that I’ll call back later that afternoon.
Driving through Italy towards France, I continued my journey and somewhere during the afternoon I received a Whatsapp that ‘something’ happened to my mother. Not long after I got a call which told me that ‘something’ was a huge heart attack and that it was unclear what to expect…
BANG!!! A punch in the stomach. A cold shiver in my heart. A million thoughts crossed my racing mind.
In between somewhere and nowhere I felt the deepest loneliness and very, very far away from what used to be home.
I imagined my mother in the ER where doctors tried to safe her life.
Flashbacks to the day my father passed away, now 35 years ago.
I always thought we’ve said all the words which needed to be spoken. I started wondering if that was true. Complete or not? Was I ready to let her go with a heart at peace…?
Bitter tears I cried. I mourned my mother before she was gone. I felt alone, so alone.
All of a sudden I felt one with all those expats who cried similar tears. All of a sudden I started to see, to feel, that the last time you said goodbye in person never is enough for a final goodbye…
Another lesson in humbleness I had to learn. Another lesson in compassion I had to experience…
A couple of days later I was able to visit my mother in hospital. How precious!
After that visit I wrote these words:
Never longed to see you more
Never held you closer
Never hugged you this intense
Your kisses and whispering meant the world to me
Your eyes lit up when they saw me
You cried when you said my name
I cried when I held your hand
Love filled my heart
My beloved mother
You knocked on heaven’s doors
Almost reunited with my dad
Eternity wasn’t ready for you yet
Thus sent you back
For precious moments to live
To read you your favourite psalm
To be closer than ever before
Whilst we’re trusting the divine
What today’s goodbye really means
Losing or almost losing a loved one is truly as you describe “a gut punch”.
I am so happy you were able to see your mom, and empathetic to the lesson here.
It is, I feel, unfortunately a lesson we all need to learn and experience ourselves.
Thank you for sharing this
Thanks for your words John! You are a man with a huge heart!!
🙏🙏 thank you for sharing your experience and the many different feelings that pass through you. They resonate so much with me and my situation.
Saying what you need to say, as often as you feel the need to is a lesson. Will it ever be enough? What is enough?
But at least saying when you can gives comfort and will leave me with less regrets if any
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Tim!
Alex, having lost both parents, this your story warmed my heart. I am so happy to read that you have additional time. I believe that she is here for a reason still. Love without boundaries. Cherish every moment.
Thanks for your words Megan, and yes, all is for a reason..
Very moving! Wishing you and your family the best 🙂
Thank you for sharing Alex. There are so many thoughts, feelings, moments we want to share before our loved ones are gone – and it is a gift when we get a second chance to do so – your words and vulnerability are beautiful.
When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, she had the beginnings of dementia. One radiation treatment to her brain put the dementia in full swing. We lost her mentally long before we lost her physically. Months later, she passed in my home while my partner and I cared for her. Something she would have done without hesitation for any of us if the tables were turned.
I tell this story because your lesson about the gravity of words is one I learned too during that time. I made sure I told my mom everything I wanted her to know before she passed. There was a closure from that. And it taught me to say I love you to my partner each morning before either of us leaves for the day and to hug him tightly when we reunite at the end of the workday. Hugs are a bit of a specialty of mine ever since. 🙂 Thanks so much for reminding me of the reason I do all this. I’m really happy to hear that your mom is still here with you! Being reminded of mortality is a gift… a present about the present.
What beautiful words Alex and thank you for sharing your experience. Your mum must be so proud of you. As a mum of boys but lacking closeness with my own mother your bond is so touching. So pleased that you were able to visit her. A good reminder to always tell my children how much they are loved.