Six years have now passed since Mother died on May 31, 2009. People tend not to write about anniversaries beyond the first one or two. I suspect this is more out of a sense that they feel they shouldn’t rather than that they have somehow ‘gained closure,’ to use that awful term.
This is the first time since Mother died that the dates and days have come full circle again. I always think that nature tries to soften the early anniversaries by changing the days and somehow confusing the memory.
Here in Ireland, quite a few people, especially in the Roman Catholic Tradition, place memorial notices in local newspapers for years and years after a loved one dies or have a Mass said. That’s never been part of our lives as Mother was a member of the Church of Ireland and neither she nor Father were into these practices.
Also, because she wanted to be cremated and have her ashes scattered at sea, there is no grave site to visit.
None of this means that she has not been very much on my mind over the last few days. This ‘presence’ has two very different sides. One was vivid recall of her last few days. It’s like key aspects have been etched into my memory to the extent that I even woke at the very time in the early hours of yesterday morning that I got the phone call to say that she had slipped away. The fact that there is such heightened awareness of aspects of end of life means that professionals particularly need to be very cognisant that how they deal with each individual death remains very much ‘alive’ for years and years.
On the other hand, there are lifetimes of memories and these relate to her early years as she relayed them to us through chatting, photos, diaries, letters; and secondly, what I’d call ‘the shared years.’
While a very emotional time, it’s certainly not been dominated by sadness. Rather, a sense of all that binds us together and, in many ways, the extent of that only becomes more obvious the more time passes.