So one of my closest friend’s mum just died. Man it feels weird to say that.
I was in hospital (I always seem to be in hospital. Call it ’empathy-boosting for when I’m on the other side of the medical treatment’) when I got the phone call. Talk about making a shitty situation worse.
So I’ve known this guy since I was 3, and lived round the corner from him from then until I moved to Dunedin. Meaning I’ve spent almost as much time with his mother as my own. So despite the fact that I’d known for a while that she was ‘on the way out’ (she’d been fighting cancer for a few years), it had never really sunk in until then, probably because I just didn’t want to believe it, so it was easier to pretend it wasn’t true. But it’s pretty hard to pretend it’s not true once she’s actually died.
So I got on the bus back home, still pretty woozy (discharged from hospital, go pretty much straight to bus station, I think this is where the kids these days would say ‘#yolo’ ), and was really too preoccupied with trying not to throw up/pass out to focus on why I was actually on the bus. I got home, having successfully avoided both chundering and passing out, and was then too busy catching up with people to really remember why I was there.
Then the next day, we went shopping for new ski gear (by which I mean ‘I gleefully stood by while my parents showered me in expensive things’), and that too kept my mind off it.
Cue the day of the funeral. Substantially less woozy (thank you, anti-emetics), and now in a suit, at one of those cliched funeral homes with lots of roses and statues of cherubs. My friend isn’t holding up so well. I’m awkwardly standing there trying to console him, but not really saying anything, kind of hoping that my comforting is reaching him telepathically or something. Still not really feeling the sad, but starting to think it would be appropriate for the sad to start coming.
So then there’s the service. And there’s a picture slideshow of her life. And that gets me right in the feels. And the tears come. It’s funny how it’s like a switch, when the tears come. Like, up until that point you kind of know you should be sad, and you kind of are, but you’re having a hard time actually feeling sad. Then something clicks, and suddenly you’re bawling your eyes out and emotions are everywhere, and you’re hugging semi-strangers who are having the same emotio-splosion.
And then it’s me and all my mates, having this big circle of cry, and I think that was the healthiest thing any of us could have done at the time, and I think it really helped the guy whose mum it was, because stuff got said/done then which was so much more emotionally helpful than anything a group of 20-somethings with the collective emotional range of a teaspoon could ever usually come up with.
That was kind of nice. Like, unbelievably sad, but in a world where guys aren’t really ‘supposed’ to show any kind of emotion whatsoever, it was really good that my friend had a group of guys around him who all emotionally vented with him, mutually leaning on each other.
Unfortunately I had (or was supposed to have, but the snow-day changed that somewhat) a crazy-busy day the next day, so I didn’t get to stay with my friends as long as I might have liked, but the 6 hours on the bus that evening provided some much-needed time for silent contemplation, which was good in its own way.
She was one hell of a lady, and like my second mum. And I’m going to miss her.