Tuesday, 22 September 2009

In the arms of death

We walked into the hospice passing the nuns at the front desk. I think I was with my Scottish grandparents.

I remember being in the lift, then walking into the private pale green room with it's big window out over the gardens.

The next second or so of my life is still the most vivid and horrific memory I have of my Mum.

My Mum was sat up against pillows on the hospital bed, she was gaunt, skeletal and staring into space. She looked straight through me. The shock of seeing her like that made me actually jump, I can still remember the feeling of my heart racing in horror as I tried to regain my composure.

I remember nothing more about that visit but I know that it was the last time I ever saw her. She died a day or so after.

I hope that she didn't see me jump, see the shock on my face. I hope the drugs were so strong that she didn't even know I was there.


  1. Oh Laura. How horrible for you. I remember seeing my Grandfather the same way, which was horrific enough because we were incredibly close. But to imagine the same scenario with my mum, when I was just a child, is just too much to bear. Much love xxx

  2. My guess would be all she saw was her beautiful daughter.

  3. Big Hugs and tears.
    My own mum shaped hole throbs daily!

  4. That is one of the saddest things I have ever read.

  5. Gosh, Laura. That's just so awful. I really feel for you.

  6. Hello. I almost feel like I'm intruding somehow by leaving a comment on such a tender thing, to a total stranger. But then, I was so moved by it -- as a mother and as a daughter. I think writing is a nearly perfect way to work out what's working at us. Something about the way you've written about your mom and to her reminds me a lot of praying, an act I find very uncertain and lonely but also strangely soothing and transforming. I usually read the "funnies" when it comes to blogs, so I'll have to go read your other, but I stumbled across your blog via someone on my Blogroll and just wanted to comment on how your words moved me. I'm a hospice volunteer, and this post is something that will stick with me forever.

  7. I too have been so moved by this post. Had a similar experience with my mum (also in a hospice before she died, looking just as you described your mum) and it has stayed with me. But I was in my 30's and you were so little. So brave of you to share the memory. Hope it has helped. I really feel for you.

  8. I am with Under the Influence - her beautiful daughter...

  9. Just seen this.


    I have a vivid memory of seeing my Mum in the BRI a few days before she went.


  10. I always wondered how seeing my friend's C physical condition deteriorating would affect her kids in the long run. The memory can be cruel and often hold the scariest images for the longest time.

    I do think, though, that something about the Irish tradition of having an open coffin during the wake is a good thing somehow. I was horrified at first, standing awkwardly in the corner of the room clutching my drink, eyes flicking over towards the coffin, but then I watched her daughter come in, push through the throng of laughing, chatting adults (I know, but wakes rarely remain sombre forever), whisper to her Mum, touch her hand, and walk back out again. I'll remember that moment forever. I wonder if she will too?

  11. I thought I would come here to thank you, instead of to your 'other house', as it seemed more appropriate. Thank you for thinking of my boys on their birthday, and for your support. I had a truly bleak night when I posted that rant, and needed the help that I then found in spades from the blogosphere. Thanks Laura x