Home' LOTL : April 2007 Contents 35
Photo: Kim Carey
life, yet were
courtyard outside her room. The stars shone down and
Venus was nestled beside the three quarter moon. I
raised my arms to the sky and dropped to my knees,
sobbing uncontrollably into the earth. Someone walked
up behind me. I wanted to scream at them to leave but
they stayed, like a silent witness, and it made me sob
even more. I reached behind me and felt a canvas shoe.
Grabbing that shoe I howled. I held onto that shoe so
tight. Finally I stood and turned and I saw the face of my
nephew, Lynne’s youngest son, now a man. Falling into
his arms he held me and asked if I wanted to be alone.
I nodded and he left. We have hardly spoken since. We
don’t have to. He understood my unspeakable loss and
I understood his.
The night Lynne died I had fallen asleep beside her, my
head on her bed, waking, dozing. At 1.15am I woke
and watched her breathe. Three minutes later she took
her last breath. I performed a short practice my beloved
Tibetan teacher taught me years before. I kissed her and
woke her husband, children, and my partner Sonia who
were asleep nearby. They all quietly sat with this woman
they loved and wept.
I needed to let my parents know and as I walked down
the hospital corridor at 1.30 am Sunday, I felt as if it
were me who had died. I couldn’t feel my body, just
raw feelings with no buffer, no defense, no pretence. I
woke my brother, my two sisters and my parents who
were sleeping in the hospital residence. I’ll never forget
knocking on their door and seeing their faces. Without
me saying a word they knew Lynne was dead. My
mother simply rolled over and tucked into her doona and
sobbed. I had never seen my mother cry. Her sobs were
so deep they could hardly be heard. My father, because
of deafness or the soft edge of denial, fell back asleep.
He is eighty-seven and never believed he would outlive
his eldest child.
Lynne’s daughter, my sister, Sonia and I were privileged
to be able to spend time with her after her death. We
bathed her, massaged her body with oil, caressed her
and dressed her. Every moment spent with Lynne was
sacred time. I saw her body ravaged by cancer and
treatment and my heart broke. Time no longer existed
and every movement, every gesture, was suspended
in a limitless world of grief, of love. In that world I was
in the intimate embrace of grief and of these women I
If you are grieving, be kind to yourself. Find safe places
where you can go into your feelings deeply and see
where it leads. If you feel crazy let the pieces fall. Be lost
for a while. Don’t deny anything. Your world won’t be the
same again: it’s different and so are you. You have loved
and lost and explored unknown territories of emotion.
Give yourself all the time you need.
I walked Lynne’s favourite mountain the other day. At
the summit, in the eerie silence and peace I burst into
tears, my heart flew open and I smiled. At that altitude
I felt her presence and her love. Down below I knew
the grief would meet me again. The cycle of grief is not
a perfect circle but it is a rich one. It reminds me how
deeply we love and how deeply we feel. Thank you
Lynne. I love you.
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