Three months ago, to the day, she died.
We sat in the room, a group of strong women and vowed not to leave until it was over. We drew strength from each other, in the being there together. We sat and loved the one of us who was failing, who wouldn’t make it to the evening. My brother and uncle joined us and added to our strength.
Her breathing, which had been laboured all day, got raspier and she pulled the oxygen mask off her face. Her hands flailed a little, unsure of her place anymore. We stood around her, an armoured guard; a support team. Our backs to the world we circled her and kept her safe. Holding hands we showed her that it was safe to leave us; that we would be okay in her absence. We lied of course, but that is what you do when someone is dying. You tell them what they need to hear to be at peace.
She turned towards her mother and looking at her, she stopped breathing. Collectively we breathed out together.
Her eyes glazed over and we said stupid things
No more pain
as our eyes dripped tears and we knew that we were lying to ourselves, to each other.
Mum and I told her we loved her, shortly before she drew her last breath. I will be forever grateful for that, along with the hours preceding when I sat holding her hand.
It was not an easy goodbye. Goodbyes rarely are.