The last time I saw my mum was the day before she died in September. I was with my brother and together we sang Amazing Grace to the skeletal figure lying motionless underneath the blankets. Her beautiful face was now unrecognizable, but we believed she could still hear. And so, just like all the other days, we told her how much we all loved her, we named each of her five children followed by her thirteen grandchildren. When my brother had gone through that same long list the day before she muttered something almost inaudible. He put his ear to her mouth and in the faintest of whispers he heard her say, “I feel so lucky.”
Standing outside her room on that last day, I spoke to one of the carers about the different situations she’d witnessed since working at this residential home. Stories that made me believe that often people choose when they are ready to leave. Stories of people waiting for their loved ones to arrive from across the world before going, or another person, a woman who was dying of cancer and every day her husband would sit beside her bed, telling her she would get better until one day he came and said, it’s okay darling, you can go now. She died that night. “Sometimes,” this carer continued, “just opening the window shows the person you’re ready to release them.”
Just before leaving our mother’s bedside, I looked into her face, the face I no longer knew, and said, “Mum, I’m off to Norfolk tomorrow, I’ve opened the window so you can fly.”
That was the last I saw of her, she died the following day, not while my brother and his wife were with her, she waited for them to leave before the angels wrapped their arms around her and carried her away.