We made it. Back to the UK. Back to Suffolk. Back to Halesworth. Back to Magnolia House. All in plenty of time for the green burial tomorrow morning and the celebration tomorrow afternoon.
There no one home when I arrive. ‘Hello’ I chorus as I push open the front door but no cat tripping down the stairs, no mum bustling out from the kitchen wearing an apron and weilding a random instrument. But they do not come. I knew of course that they would not but some part of my brain seems to struggle to keep up. I keep having to remind it. ‘mums dead’
Walking the house I look for the changes. The back sitting room where mum died looks empty. The sofa and coffee table never moved back. A small table and large invidual arm chairs give it a slight waiting room air. The surfaces in the kitchen are unusually clear, the fridge uncharacteristicly organized. The garden is lovely but so much of the fruit is unpicked.
But I am dry eyed noticing all the differences.
Eventually I get up my nerve to head to Mum’s room. This is when I cry. Not because it had changed but because it hasn’t and because I feel such relief that the same ornaments, books, photos, paintings crowd the surfaces and walls. Imopen her cupboards. Same smell. Same soft quilt upon the bed. As I’m sitting there on the bed being hugged by my daughter when I hear footsteps and voices downstairs my sister and Dad are back from visiting with the celebrant and going to the venue.
Seeing them is suddenly the most important thing the world. This is what we traveled so far for. Not to say goodbye to mum. We can and do – do do that miles away. No we are here, not for the house, but for the hugs, for the opportunity to say goodbye together.
I thnk I am ready for it. The funeral seems amazingly organised by everyone here and I know it will be beautiful and moving and will bring closure.
We head to the pier which is positively over run with memories of mum. From her last big meal with and the kids or the last walk she took outside half way down the pier till she collapsed . We have tea and look at the waves through the gaps in the boards crashing beneath our feet. Its a lovely way to spend the afternoon All of us together: my dad, sister three grandchildren, my husband and my sisters partner.
But tonight my jet lagged brain is checking out. I kept thinking I saw her all around Southwold today, on the pier, gettimg out of a car, eating in the pub. I can barely keep my eyes open now but part of me just wants to talk to mum. I know she stresses when we travel long distances and stresses even more when she has a big event planned and needs our help. ‘Don’t worry mum’ I mumble as I stumble to bed ‘we made it back safe’.
Time enough, tomorrow, to tell her goodbye.