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Today my friend buries her mother

Today my friend buries her mother in a coffin she has painted by hand. Today my friend's father tells her that she has taken on too much responsibility in the matter. She tells me he made her feel like she did not have a choice. Today I will get my hair cut. Today by mid day my friend will have buried her mother. My friend is only twenty four. Her daughter is two. I ask my friend how she has been feeling. 


I ask her again. 

'how are you feeling?'

'I don't have time to crumble, because I don't have time to pick myself up again. I just have to keep going'.

My friend has been having panic attacks. When she goes to sleep she's woken by her dreams, drenched in sweat, often she finds herself sitting upright, then instictively moves her legs to the side of the bed, plants her feet on the floor and stays there. She does not remember how long this has been going on for. 

When I saw my friend the week prior, we spoke and I paid attention only to her face. Tried to find something in her mirror eyes. We sat on her sofa, and I asked her when she allowed herself a day to process it all. She mapped out the next weeks tasks and landed on a Friday in three weeks time. I saw her on the Tuesday, the blinds were drawn, her daughter's toys scattered on the carpet, she apologised for the mess, I took back the apology for her. Her fridge was empty. She admitted she had been eating in halves. 

'I've been eating, I had half a sandwich for lunch, and half a wrap for dinner'.

I watched as she fed her daughter an oat bar, her daughter only took half, she ate the other half. That was her breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Today my friend buries her mother. Tomorrow my friend will take her daughter to the park. Tomorrow my friend will clean the house. Tomorrow my friend will look into the sun. Tomorrow and for the rest of time my friend will try not to crumble.

My mother's mother died when she was twenty four. On sunday I see a film where the main character's son dies, the mother of the dead son screams while watching him die. On Sunday I cried silently into my seat, the scream was too familiar. On Sunday I held my mouth so that my boyfriend next to me couldn't hear me sob.


My mother's first son died. My father held him while he took his final breath. My father told me when they called the funeral home the funeral director brought in a violin size coffin. My father told me that, that moment was the worst part of the entire ordeal. My friend told me that when they came to take her mother away, the funeral director laid down a battered blue tarp and watched as he placed her mother into it.

'She was so small that she was swimming in it'.

My friend told me that, that moment was the worst part of the entire ordeal. 

My mother has been sick for a few years now, my father and I traverse the subject delicately. 

'She's not been well. Sad. Sleeping alot.'

My father and I walk along the beach towards the mountain he climbed when he was younger, 

walk along the beach, the forest next to the salt and sand, 

white butterflies slink in and out of the dense bush. 

'I think she get's sad because she wants to do things but she can't because she's too tired'.

I don't know why he says this, and I don't know why, but every time he does I feel the need to correct him. 

She's not tired dad. She is dying. She cannot breathe properly. 

He corrects himself.

'She's upset she doesn't have the energy to do the things she wants to do with you.'





◄ I think this is denial


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Steve White

Tue 30th Jan 2024 08:58

Brilliantly immersive writing. A compelling read.

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