Losing a parent can be life-changing and it’s impossible to prepare for the shock and grief felt once they’re gone. Michelle has shared what it meant to her to lose her mum, who was cared for by our team in 2005, and has written a poem entitled ‘The Call Came’ about the final days of her mum’s life at Sobell House.
Michelle always said to her mum that she would write a book and get it published, and we were delighted to receive a copy of her debut novel ‘Some Diamonds Are Blue’ for the hospice, which was published in 2020 marking 15 years since she lost her mum. You can purchase Michelle’s book here.
Nothing prepares you for your final goodbye
None of us want to think about losing someone we love. I can distinctively recall a long time ago considering whether it would be harder to lose someone suddenly or slowly. Fate must have heard my question as I was to find out this answer with each parent.
I never had the opportunity to say goodbye to my dad. His bright light was extinguished suddenly and it was a devastating shock. I’m still reeling from that experience today.
Less than ten years after dad, I lost mum, but with years of warning. She had COPD (emphysema). It was a slow and cruel illness. I spent hours, weeks and months by her side in intensive care and on hospital wards. I was so afraid of losing her – of saying that final goodbye – I spiralled into a very low place. That panic and those dark clouds followed me every day.
My first daughter was just seven weeks old when ‘that call’ came. I knew mum had waited to see her first grandchild. When I was heavily pregnant, I arrived to visit her in hospital. I was stood behind the hospital curtains and heard her telling the Doctor to do whatever it took to keep her alive long enough to see ‘our’ baby. At least she got that wish.
It was the tone in the nurse’s voice that made my heart beat frantically. It was late in the evening, and I’d been trying to settle the baby. I took the phone into the bathroom. I asked her how quickly I needed to get there. She said “now.” I don’t even remember the half-hour drive to Sobell House in Oxford, where mum was. She had gone there for a few days respite, or so we thought.
When daylight came
I remember arriving at Sobell House (it probably looked as though we were moving in we had so much baby stuff with us). Every effort and kindness was made to help us feel as comfortable as we could. There were many difficult moments. We sat there all night watching, waiting, hoping for a miracle.
But any miracle was beyond what we could hope for. The Doctor told me it was incredible mum had survived until now. He said something about her blood gases and that clinically he couldn’t quite believe she was still with us. But that was mum – always a fighter.
We were suspended in that sad place for hours, knowing we would never see or speak to her again, yet still trying to hold onto her.
It was a beautiful, warm summers day. 14th July 2005. The day we had to let go.
I wrote this poem, The Call Came, to take you on the journey of my experience. It is hard to lose someone you love whatever the situation or circumstance. I wish I didn’t know the answer as to how it feels to lose someone suddenly or slowly. The truth is, both experiences leave their own scars. We just have to cherish the memories.
The Call Came by Michelle Sumecki