By Simon Barget
Mum died yesterday; a total wrenching of my soul. Suddenly no safety net and I hadn’t realised I had had one. I hadn’t realised that everything I was doing and being in life, every feeling and instinct, every inner sensation, every moment I drew breath in was with Mum as my backstop. I couldn’t make sense that my backstop was gone. I was a scuttling bug, my legs and wings ripped off for pleasure. Every moment, a hand’s stretch away on the telephone, her existence pure succour. Her voice, her burr, her total continuous presence. I couldn’t operate. All the stuff I’d told myself about how I was self-sufficient, instantly gone.
I have felt breathless through grief, through that instant explosion, through a lever someone pulls, through a false floor removed so that you’re standing on thin air waiting always to plummet. I have experienced the sense of that floor never coming back and of that mystifying bamboozling desperation for it to come back when you look up for an instant again and see the dreaded vacuum’s still there. Where do you place yourself, what direction to turn to? And how can it not be there? Just ho-oo-ooow really, no more words to the question.
I have felt like I have been caught or twisted in two. I have looked at life and suddenly asked it now how do I continue? Not even a question, the question barely inchoate, lacking the energy even to form. How can I face it, being the thrust. And yet every instant my cells forcing me back to the habit, the thing I got used to, the perennial stupid assumption she must be still living, that it cannot possibly be true. And I feel so stupid within it all, within this concoction of feeling within all this confusion, I feel so stupid and so wrong that I could ever have thought of my life as having been anything proper, responsible, complete, self-sufficient and that I was ultimately ok. I feel so stupid for believing for one instant that my whole existence wasn’t fully supported and rested on the edifice of my mother, the pain of being so so so alone is my comeuppance, is what I have to contend with.
Mum died yesterday and I cannot even remember how, I cannot remember who told me. All I know is how stupid I am. All I know is that she came to me in a vision, a waking vision, and when she appeared at the door of my childhood bedroom, I flung myself forward and tried to engulf her to stop her from being a phantom. I yelped, yes, I totally panicked. I showed her the unquenchable need I never remotely had the guts to show her when she was living. There was no time to hide my unbearable feeling. I knew she was real, yet I couldn’t understand what the point of this was, that if she was dead why was she playing this trick, why was this thing perpetrated, to make me miss so much more what I knew I missed in the first place.
Mum died yesterday. And yet Mums die all the time. And we go around amongst the mourners and the mourned, amongst those who come into our dreams and we pay not a moment’s attention. When the pain racks up and the edifice crumbles to nothing. From the unprepared dreamers, blissfully unaware and waiting to be visited, to the rootless, the sufferers, the ones left dead alone, every moment catching a breath, one more breath in the face of the pain, until they might be able to breathe again without panic, to breathe restfully and in safe rhythm, somewhat dampened from hurt.