My beloved mom passed away on Tuesday.
She was 78 years old, “no spring chicken,” as she might say, but she might also say that “age is a feeling from the inside,” and she’d been in good health and in fact seemed just as radiant as ever, when I’d spoken to her on FaceTime just days before, so it was completely unexpected and thus a massive shock.
I’ve been processing all the usual feelings associated with grief — namely though, a terrible sense of loss.
I’m writing from a layover hotel room at the airport in Vancouver. It’s far too luxurious for my needs — all I needed was a few hours sleep while I waited for the next connection. Funny how you get to experience extraneous things in grief that you would unlikely otherwise experience. Leo, my sister, would give the stamp of approval to this incredibly elegant place. Crystal chandeliers, carpet that looks like modern art, heavy and huge furniture, everything gleaming and new.
Meanwhile I can’t find an outlet for my laptop (it’s behind the heavy furniture, far too heavy to move), and there is no coffee maker nor kettle in the room… if you’re rich, I suppose the hotel industry doesn’t want you to be too independent.
My husband has been amazing through all of it. He immediately organized the trip bookings as quickly as possible, and based on convenience. He’s an absolute boon. I can’t say enough good things about him. I’d say I wish he was here, but that’s not quite true either, in this exact moment. I’m happy to have a few hours of time to myself., or rather… with the page. And we saw each other before I left. To my watery existence, he’s as solid as a rock. He has flown home to France (he works in Holland much of the time), to be with the kids, while I’m go to stay with my dad for the next two weeks.
The hotel room is so wonderfully warm, compared to the place I usually write at home… there is a small zen bamboo plant on the shining desk… and a massive bathroom, which I won’t be using, because I somehow forgot my hairbrush, my toilet bag, all that stuff… along with the hood of my coat.
I can make do without the brush, and other toiletries, and anyway they’re all replaceable, but somehow, not having that removable hood — it’s faux-fur trimmed, and I’d taken it off to wash the coat just before the trip; it’s a kind of wool-blend short trench I’ve been wearing for years, since the last time I saw Paris — the fact that I won’t have it for the two weeks of this winter journey bothers me.
It was my cozy comfort, a way to hide a bit, I suppose, and very warm, no need for umbrellas or toques — yet also lent a touch of glamour. And now, seeing family and friends again for the first time in many years… for a reason filled with tears… I won’t have this bit of glamorous comfort with me.
My mom loved fashion and clothes, so I know she would completely understand, and feel the same way if it happened to her; yet to my face she would wave it all away saying, “your coat is fine without your hood, darling. If you run fast enough no one will notice.” Or, “just buy another one.”
But I don’t want another one. I love *this* coat. It’s the one I’ve loved for years. I keep repairing my relationship with it every time the seams grow loose. A stitch in time saves nine… that saying is true.
Tell your loved ones you love them… it might be the last time you do.
Yesterday I took three planes, in a span of 24 hours. Today I take one more, and then I’ll be reunited with my dad and sister, and, as it turns out, much of the Canadian side of the family, who are also now travelling to this relatively remote location on the west coast, to join us at the quickly-planned memorial we decided to hold, mainly for the local community that she was so much a part of. There will be another one for the Dutch family in Europe, during spring.
My mother…. what can I tell you about her, dear writing friends, that I haven’t already?
She was the kindest heart, the most creative artist, the most unsung multitalented hero, the biggest cheerleader, the most cuckoo bird in the clock, the most joyful and whimsical woman… of my life. And she gave me life. And now hers has transformed into pure spirit.
“Mommy, how can I live without you?”
I know what you are saying.
I hear you, Momsie. Will do.
p.s. Sometimes it’s challenging to know what to say or do in the face of sad news. The truth is, anything is fine, imho, if it’s from the heart. Even if it’s just hitting the “like” button on this post. That’s plenty. And/or the old standbys — “So sorry for your loss,” “Deepest/sincere condolences” …with those, you can never go wrong. Thank you, dear friends
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Auvergne, France. Thank you for reading. ❤︎