Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Sad


My next door neighbour died today. She was about 53.

She had lived here almost as long as I have; I remember her as a keen hockey player, going off to major matches every Saturday. I have a photo of her some years later, standing high on a ladder, noticeably pregnant, clearing ivy from the back of the house, smiling down at me. I recall her rise to becoming head teacher of an excellent school, and the increase in her levels of stress and blood pressure as work became the greater part of her life.

And I recall the shock of hearing four years ago that she had suffered a catastrophic stroke, surviving it only because she had just been admitted to hospital minutes earlier. She never really recovered, and latterly, with the recurring cancer that also struck her down, was looked after at home by a team of carers. She faded out from the neighbourhood, but everyone remained aware of her, asking after her, not forgetting.

Her child, now a young teenager, has been cared for by friends who, despite their growing exhaustion, have been a shining light to us for their selfless devotion to them both. No one knew how much she understood of their care and compassion, or if she saw the toll it took of them, but she fought wordlessly to stay alive far longer than anyone predicted.

Until today, when she gave up that fight.

It is difficult to articulate how we feel; words like "a blessed release" come too easily, as do "she isn't suffering any more", but the stark fact remains: a mother, a daughter, a friend, a teacher, a neighbour, has been taken too soon, too cruelly, too incapacitated to tell her child how much she loved him or to say goodbye to those who loved her.

Better to remember her as she was, all those years ago, smiling down from too high up on a ladder, full of life and energy, confident that she had all her life before her.

26 comments:

Debs said...

That is so sad. Such a young woman to have been taken so early. My heart goes out to her son.

flwrjane said...

I'm so sorry to hear this news. Oh my God so young.

Yes, far better to be remembered in the prime of our lives, even if that prime was an early one.

Big hug for you.

xo Jane

azza said...

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend.

Paul C said...

An emotional and heart felt tribute.

Mary ,East Coventry USA said...

I am so sorry - for her life that ended much too soon,for her child who has lost her,and for her friends and neighbors who knew her in good times and bad. It is very sad.
Mary

frayedattheedge said...

I am so sorry. My thoughts are with you. It is always worse somehow when someone who is younger than you dies. But is is good that you have those wonderful memories of her. I know it sounds trite, but I think people never completely die as long as we remember them.

Preseli Mags said...

So sad. My thoughts are with her family, friends, neighbours and pupils. So sorry for your loss.

the veg artist said...

I feel for her child particularly. Even though he will rationally realise that she did not desert him on purpose, the pain will always be there. If she was aware of her situation, and guessed the outcome, then she will have gone through hell. If her stroke was caused by presures of work then it is unspeakably sad, and a tragic lesson to us all to look after ourselves.

lovethosecupcakes said...

It's so heartening to hear of the care and support your neighbour received (and her son continues to receive) when she needed it most. And yes, remember her as she would wish to be remembered.

Lesley said...

Yes, sad and tragic. No real comfort to be had and only inspiration to be taken from it - live and love every day to the full. So sorry for your sadness. xx

Nia said...

I agree with what has already been said here, what awful news and so very sad. xxx

John said...

I am sorry for the loss of your friend, and I send best wishes and prayers to her son and neighbors who loved her.

jabblog said...

That is desperately sad. Thank goodness for kind and caring friends and neighbours who have supported her. Her son has a hard time ahead.

judy in ky said...

Yes, it is very sad, sometimes life seems so cruel. Thank goodness for those who cared for her. You remember her well.

Marcheline said...

Hugs to you - her good friend. She is beyond pain, and so we (your blogfriends) send healing and warming good thoughts and wishes from all over the world to you.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Poor boy .
And poor mother , who seemed to have hung on as long as she could for him , even though it wasn't the way either would have chosen their life to be .
Yet again you've highlighted the importance of friendship , neighbourliness and looking out for those in most need .

elizabethm said...

My throat is thick reading this. As you know my much loved brother had a big stroke a few weeks ago. At least he can still speak and understand and is himself, in all but his inability to move. His lot is a hard one but your friend's was even harder. I am glad you can remember her up her ladder.

Zoë said...

I came here via elizabethm blog, and am sorry to read about your loss. I have read further, and enjoyed what you had written - especially the catz blog. I have 5 myself and can identify with their antics - the pole dancing photo had me laughing out loud!

Julie said...

How tragic, such a young age. My heart goes out to her son, and her friends and family.

Molly said...

oh rachel, this is so very sad. i wish her son the very best - i can't imagine life without a mother. what a wonderful memory you will always have of her.

Bee said...

This makes me feel terribly sad, too.
I don't think that ONLY the good die young, but so often it seems that many of them do.

Dartford Warbler said...

Poor boy, to have lost his mother at such a young age. Your neighbour sounds such a brave and busy woman. Gone much too soon.
You have written such a moving tribute to her.

BumbleVee said...

what a sad day.... just sending a hug .....

Alicia said...

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your neighbor and friend. It made me miss my own mom who was taken from me entirely too soon.

When I communicated with you last Fall, we discussed that I might start my own blog. I'm still contemplating that, but I wanted to send you a link to a "letter" I wrote and delivered as a speech at my mother's funeral in Nov of 2006. I'm quite proud of it, I think it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever written even though it has both sad (and funny) bits to it. I think you will enjoy it.. and anyone else who comes to read your comments on this particular blog post might find it funny and hopefully comforting too. Here it is:

http://www.myspace.com/alicialane/blog/194184945

Lyn said...

so sad and you have done a lovely tribute to this brave lady, gone too soon.
love
Lyn
xxx

Poshyarns said...

Oh Rachel, your post is such a tender and perfectly expressed tribute.

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