The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th July, 2022, What Survives of Us is Love

Helena’s mother Sheila died this afternoon. It was expected. Last week Helena was with Sheila at the hospital as end of life plans were agreed. It’s been fast. The projected months turned into weeks then days. Helena and her brother were there when Sheila died.

The death of a parent is hard. It’s disorientating, devastating and it hurts so much it can be a pain so great it goes beyond feeling to numbness. You know it will happen, but nothing can really prepare you for its finality.

Or maybe finality is the wrong word. Helena loved her mother and showed it in so many ways, including supporting her through her cancer diagnosis, treatment, recurrence, as well as humour, company and honesty. I knew Sheila a little. We marched side by side to protest against Brexit. Citizen Sheila, Helena called her. Sheila carried an anti-Brexit banner home after one of those marches. I expect it’s still in her house.

She told Helena she wants a quiet funeral, no fuss. In my experience it’s after the funeral things get harder as we try to come to terms with a new reality where our parent is no longer there at the end of the ‘phone, beside us on the sofa, enjoying a meal, or raging against the government.

So tonight I have lit a candle to remember Citizen Sheila. I shall charge my glass after dinner and drink to her memory. When Helena returns to her house we will toast her mother’s memory, listen to stories about her, laugh, keep that flame alive.

Philip Larkin got it right.

4 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 28th July, 2022, What Survives of Us is Love

  1. Only just seen this, so will light a candle for Sheila this evening. I have a picture of her in my mind from occasional meetings, but only knew her through you and Helena talking about her – a really special person.

  2. I lost my dad early last year, and you’re right; it’s after the funeral that’s most difficult. I mourned for my dad all of last year. Every time I thought of him or talked about him, or even talked about parents to anybody I would start to cry.

    • I’m sorry to hear that KS. The first year is hardest, but the second is too. Gradually it becomes less painful, but I still mourn both my parents, and others I have loved who have died.

  3. I haven’t been reading my favorite bloggers very often as of late so I’m catching up. I remember when my mother died how strange it felt to be an orphan while in my early 60’s. The void is so large. I also remember how much I enjoyed reading your insights about your mother as she aged and with her death. And we carry on.

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