I don’t know even how to begin this post…. I look at this photograph in disbelief. I can’t really understand how it is they are all now gone. Only recently we were all so happy.
My mother has now left this world. Hopefully to be with Dad. That’s not how she put it in words, but still kept talking about how life without him was not at all what she wanted. It all happened quite quickly. Not entirely unexpected as she has had health issues for many years, but she seemed invincible, like a cat with nine lives, overcoming one thing after another. We (my siblings and I) thought that this last visit to the hospital would be yet another “fine-tuning” to keep her going for much longer. I was planning to spend Thanksgiving with her this year. (I have, in spite of all my American relatives, never experienced a proper Thanksgiving first hand). And we had made plans….
Suddenly the communications from the other side of the Atlantic changed from “concerned” to “alarming”. Things were not looking so good. Frequent messages across cyberspace. And on the morning of September the 14th, I got the news: “She has passed away”. I booked the ticket and left the next day. I couldn’t take it all in. Thought there would have been time. My brother was already there. He was the one present when my father passed away too. Not that long ago. And for the second time, the four of us all reunited, but for all the wrong reasons.
Again, my two sisters, my brother and I came together to say farewell to a parent. A bittersweet reunion. We share so many things and being together was comforting but strange. We are all raised to be strong, self-sufficient and efficient. And we were. We dealt with a number of practical matters. Only people who have been in that situation will understand how many details there are that need immediate attention. We did most of it. Some matters will have to take time, for legal and practical reasons.
But we managed to organize a funeral service for our mother, and my sister Cecilia created a slide-show with images of Mom, showing her life. It was heartbreakingly beautiful. (Unfortunately, it’s not in a format that I can share here). An amazing number of her friends were able to attend, and many tears were shed.
Later the same day, the four of us went together to place the ashes of both our parents in the Atlantic, as they had requested. This must be one of the most surreal moments in my life. We said our farewells on the shores of America, and I can’t even begin to imagine all the thoughts that went through our minds at that time. All of the things we should have said while they were still here, and our most personal and private memories. And yet, it felt like it was exactly how this moment should be. Unforgettable, timeless and with no geographical boundaries.
I look at the photograph on top and I see the three people closest to me, apart from my own children. My parents who made me into the person I am today. And my husband. In the course of only three years, they have all left this world. This sounds totally egotistical, and perhaps it is, because I feel like I don’t have any strength left to deal with more loss and grief. I do feel sorry for myself, and blame the universe for being unfair in taking my loved ones, one after another….
I am blessed to have my three daughters and my grandchildren as my closest family. And of course, my two sisters and my brother. Which means, I have a big family still. Not insignificant! I’m not alone. But having to say Goodbye is too hard. There is no way to make this any easier. I try my best to focus on all the good times, all the fun and all the adventures. There is an innumerable amount of memories – all my life. My Mom gave me life, and was always present.
This is what I shared for the service in celebration of her life:
This is the moment.
The moment where we say Goodbye. That inevitable moment we already knew would come, but yet could never be prepared for.
I wanted to share a few words about my Mother, the woman who gave me life. The woman who made me into the person I am today.
I’d have liked to share share some of the most memorable moments, but there are so many, and realize that could take me hours…
As we grew up, she gave us the opportunity to experience some most extraordinary adventures, She was a great Mom. But instead, Ill keep most of these memories in my heart and just give you my personal view of who my mother was.
Birgitta – B – Bittan – Mamma – Mormor – Farmor
She was a beautiful, bold and brave woman. Not afraid to go places or do things where others might hesitate. Her view of life was often that there were no limitations, only new challenges.
The image of her that now materializes before me, is that of a younger Mom, still in good health and very active. She is always vivacious, extrovert and colorful. Wearing a unique outfit with bright colors and flowers, really nice shoes with matching handbag, scarf, hat and Mexican-style jewellery. She’d be going all-in on a new art project, scattering paint, yarn, papers, drift wood, pieces of string, pebbles etc all over the place.
And she’d be talking about creating a dinner party, finding the right ingredients for the dinner, putting together the guest list, finding a theme and all the decor.
I can almost picture her, before us now, sitting in this room, this very moment. She’d be smiling ad say: “No, you’re not telling it right. Let me tell that story!”
But not today, Mom. Today is the day when we all say our goodbyes. When we think “Never again”. –
Never again :
– will we have gigglefits over somethings completely silly or argue over something pointless and stupid
– will she tell me what to wear, how to behave or give me advice on how to be a mother
– will she comfort me when I’m sad
– will we go out for another adventure
And never again will I hear her talk about missing Dad. Because now I believe that are together again.
And I can almost hear them, bickering over details regarding the arrangments for the most amazing dinner party yet, which is to be held at wherever they are now. Mom is organizing the menu, Dad is in charge of the wine and my husband Peter is most likely handing out cigars. The guest list now include some of their immediate family and many friends.
This is the image that makes it possible for me to do what she asked us all to do today: celebrate her life, not to mourn.