I will not feel, until I have to

This is a bit of a personal one, so I hope no one minds....My mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, several years back, and recently became very unwell, so we were told she was dying. I was lucky enough to be able to spend a lot of time with her in her last few days and, in that time, I was taken aback by the beauty and strength she still had, despite her situation. I took a few photos which may seem a weird thing to do when your relative is dying, but for me it felt like the right thing to do, a comfort somehow - the photos are just for me to remember that very strange precious and difficult time I spent with my mum, and a way to hold onto those last memories. I'm sharing just this one though, as a way of grieving I suppose, and of celebrating her life. Thanks.

This poem by Norman McCaig was in my mind at the time.

Visiting Hour.

The hospital smell
combs my nostrils
as they go bobbing along
green and yellow corridors.

What seems a corpse
is trundled into a lift and vanishes
heavenward.

I will not feel, I will not
feel, until
I have to.

Nurses walk lightly, swiftly,
here and up and down and there,
their slender waists miraculously
carrying their burden
of so much pain, so
many deaths, their eyes
still clear after
so many farewells.

Ward 7. She lies
in a white cave of forgetfulness.
A withered hand
trembles on its stalk. Eyes move
behind eyelids too heavy
to raise. Into an arm wasted
of colour a glass fang is fixed,
not guzzling but giving.
And between her and me
distance shrinks till there is none left
but the distance of pain that neither she nor I
can cross.

She smiles a little at this
black figure in her white cave
who clumsily rises
in the round swimming waves of a bell
and dizzily goes off, growing fainter,
not smaller, leaving behind only
books that will not be read
and fruitless fruits.

Norman MacCaig

5 Comments

  1. systemdevice
    systemdevice ·

    Your photo reminded me of this photo series: https://www.featureshoot.com/2014/03/heavy-beautiful-photos…
    Thank you for sharing! Stay strong!

  2. mjanekerr
    mjanekerr ·

    Wow, thank you @systemdevice, that is such a beautiful thing to see....it’s such a strange thing to be forced to “deal” with death, but I am eternally amazed by the way people are so strong despite the situations they are dealing with!

  3. lomodesbro
    lomodesbro ·

    Very moving. Such good framing

  4. mjanekerr
    mjanekerr ·

    @lomodesbro Thank you, much appreciated.

  5. troch
    troch ·

    Absolutely lovely, a wonderful celebration of your mum's life.