It was a beautiful day. February sun in a clear blue sky; cold, but with the promise of Spring. Walking with good friends along Hadrian’s Wall. Making our way down through the trees from the ridge about Crag Lough my mobile rings.
I don’t recognise the number. I answer and my sister tearfully says “You’d better sit down” and I know the news isn’t good. My Mum’s body was found by the district nurse this morning slumped in the hallway of her home.
It’s a shock, but not a complete suprise, in her 79th year her health had been bad for some time. I comfort my sister as best I can from 200 miles away. I hang up and tell my friends, who are as shocked as I am.
The walk back is strangely calm. The sun continues to shine, the sky is still a delicious blue. People pass enjoying the day as we walk back to our cars. My senses are very clear and I feel quite peaceful. I wonder if perhaps I should weep or wail, neither seems to fit my feeling so I just keep walking appreciating the space my friends give me to feel the way I feel (my friends are very good friends). At the car park we hug our goodbyes.
I drive home to Gateshead to get ready for the five hour drive to my Mum’s home. Along the country roads I marvel at how beautiful it is, how extraordinary it is to be alive and to have this experience of a beautiful day.
When I get home I do what needs to be done to put everyday life on hold for a while, pack my bags and start the long drive home. The first part of this journey passes through some of countryside my mum loved. It’s at it’s best and I drink it in for her, she would have loved to be here on a day like today.
After a little while I pass the place where I decided 10 years ago, on the drive home the day my father died, that I would do my best to be open to what ever happened and what ever I felt and do my best to honour him by how I handled it. I already knew that I would do the same for my mother. I want to be fully present through all this and beyond. The long drive home is a mixture of sadness and gratitude.
Being alive is an amazing improbable gift. It was her great gift to me and I want to make the best of it.
Thank you Mum for the gift of my life and for all your kindnesses.
Rest In Peace
Joan Hunt (neé Thompson)
(Experienced on Saturday written on Tuesday)