Well, do you want the good news or the bad news first?
I never know which is best. Good news for a good mood, so the bad then doesn't seem so bad. Or bad first, so that the good makes you forget the bad, and we end on a happy note.
I can almost hear you saying "Oh for gawd's sake, Cathryn, get on with it".
Okay. You may have realised you lost your ten week battle. Cancer claimed victory at 6pm on Wednesday 10th July. We had all visited in the previous days and weeks, many times, sometimes holding bedside vigils when you could barely open your eyes for days and we thought the end was near, only to have you wake up, ask for a can of Coke, check who was winning the footy tipping contest, and soldier on for another week as if nothing happened.
On the 10th, Dad had been with you most of the day, and had just gone back to his room for some dinner and a rest. I was at home cooking dinner. Jared and Carina were in the next room watching TV. John was on a plane on his way home from Sydney. It's like you waited until we were all busy elsewhere, our minds on other things, and you allowed yourself to quietly and peacefully slip away with no drama or fanfare. Well played, you.
I think you would have liked your funeral service. Dad keeps saying it would have been just what you wanted, and I know it gave him comfort. I think I did okay, but I'm glad you organised a pre-paid funeral plan all those years ago. There are far too many coffins to choose from, although let's face it, you were never getting the $40000 gold option. You went economy class, just as you wished, because I know you would have haunted me like a poltergeist forever if I'd upgraded you and "wasted money on something that's going to be burned anyway". Your exact words, if I remember rightly.
I hope you liked your outfit, I thought you looked pretty smart in it and the pewter shoes went well with the navy jacket. And I remembered underwear. As the funeral director said, "Whether she believed in God or not, if there really ARE some Pearly Gates, would your Mum want to arrive at them going commando?" No. No, you wouldn't.
The funeral director turned out to be a bloke I worked with (in a different industry) almost 30 years ago. Small world, huh? It was an instant icebreaker, and made me feel very comfortable about the whole process, which is probably what led to the 'commando' question. Can't imagine they speak quite so frankly to all bereaved families, but I appreciated the warmth and humour that came from our familiarity.
No-brainer for the flowers. Dad and I both said "roses" at the same time, and I chose a pink arrangement which looked beautiful placed on the coffin, next to my favourite old photo of you.
|No Mum, this is not on the coffin, I took this photo when we got home.|
Even I know it's inappropriate to snap pics in a chapel.
Stop rolling your eyes at me.
I made a DVD of photos of you, ranging from the earliest baby photos I could find, right through to the photo taken on Mother's Day this year, just 10 days after you were diagnosed. It had Ave Maria playing in the background, and brought lots of oohs and ahhs and chuckles from people, as it jogged their memories of fun, happy or sentimental times. Dad watched it again, every day, for several days after the funeral. He loved it, and I think you would too. Except maybe the shot of you in the Easter Bunny costume. But come on, how could I NOT include that?
I wrote a fairly long eulogy, which John read out for me. You probably would've got bored listening at around the 6 minute mark, since you knew all the stories, but it seemed to go down really well. Everyone laughed, sighed and cried in all the right places. Thank goodness, because if they hadn't, I think I would quit writing this blog altogether.
The celebrant read out a poem I chose, which I hope you would've liked. Dad was impressed and surprised I even knew a poem. Just quietly, I think John was too. It's called i carry your heart, by E E Cummings.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it(anywhere i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling) i fear no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true) and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Hope it wasn't too sappy for you. I know you're not overly sentimental like that, and neither am I normally, but I've always liked it, and both the celebrant and Dad thought it was lovely.
We sprinkled petals on your coffin at the end of the service, while Amazing Grace played in the background, and several people used the envelopes we provided to make a donation to the Cancer Council in your memory. As a thank you, everyone who attended the service received a packet of flower seeds to take home and plant, and think of you. Or of their own Mum. Or of someone else they've lost, to cancer or something else.
As funerals go, it was all quite lovely.
I'm just sorry not all of your offspring were there. I'm sorry not everybody is as caring, compassionate or respectful as they should be. I'm sorry in your final weeks, you suffered both physically and mentally. I'm sorry you discovered the things you discovered, and knew the things you didn't need to know. I'm sorry you had to endure pain and indignities. I'm sorry we couldn't end it for you sooner. I'm sorry for the way you had to leave this world. I'm sorry you had to leave at all.
But I'm grateful you were my Mum.
And for countless other things.
Especially the Easter Bunny photo.