debriefing the grief

I’ve been writing about my mother, death and grief, because her deathiversary is coming up. It’s part eulogy and part therapy, I guess.

Metaphorically speaking, I could feel my brain bulge a bit after my mother died, as I began to wish that I had some form of faith. Faith in an afterlife, in reincarnation, mediums – anything to put some kind of bandaid on the hurting. An ex hospice nurse told me that the dead show themselves clearly to their loved ones before they go wherever they go. She’s such a no nonsense, practical type that I wanted to believe her, but I couldn’t. You can’t take a conscious leap of faith for any of those things; either you’ve got it, or you get it, or you’re stuck with science and chaos theory.

I landed up with a two year long sporadic earworm too:

Death is pretty final, I’m collecting vinyl,
I’m gonna dj at the end of the world

Frequently it seemed as though I was outside looking into my mind with slight astonishment at the shiny new cogs and hamster wheels. Everything felt different, of course, because my whole world had changed and I was worldsick as a result. I’m back inside my mind again now, but knowing me, probably too much.

She was hardcore tough, my mum. Friable too, guess that comes with the territory when you’re made of flint. I was intimidated by her when I was a kid; as an adult, I predictably locked horns with her on numerous occasions. And we are/were both as stubborn as mules with their hooves superglued to the ground.

She was tall, tanned easily – a good looking woman actually. Nextofkin got her looks and I got her mind. We are probably sharing her personality. Her unshakeable punctuality too. She loved classical music and unclassical music (idk how to define genres she liked without writing a paragraph on its own). Brahms, Sibelius, Puccini, Tchaikovsky, Gorecki, Leonard Cohen, Mark Knopfler, Dave Gilmour, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Eddie Vedder. See what I mean? She wrote poetry. She was incredibly intelligent. My psychiatrist thinks she was possibly bipolar ii. She loved poetry, books, islands, sea shells, african wild dogs, cheese, travel … etc. She was a passionate woman. She was a good teacher, she had an amazing sense of humour. She loved her children fiercely, the way mothers should. She called Facebook twatbook and refused to go anywhere near it. She could play the piano, speak German, she was so tough and so wounded and just … really cool.


There wasn’t a funeral or an obituary. There was me, holding her (fuckit!) body while we waited for the hearse, playing her very special songs loud to mask the conversation on my stoep. The rest of it is private and it’s hard for me to write and face anyway. But it’s good to keep at it. It helps.

It is complete and utter bullshit that she died. I am not reconciled to it; I’m as sad as fuck and pissed off too. I accept the fact that it happened, but I’m foolishly hooked on justice, even though I know justice is irrelevant to death. I don’t accept that it’s okay that it happened. It’s not okay. Apart from the selfish stuff, she was far too young. Things left undone …

I’m so tired. Last night I got two hour’s sleep and the night before, zero. I hate this hypervigilance crap. Sleep beckons and I haul up and start boxing like a kangaroo. Or hares. Anyway. I’ll take a pill tonight if necessary. I’ve been walking the dogs at 5.30 am, which is now sunrise. And it keeps on surprising me that my dogs and my mother never met. When I talk to my mother, I complain bitterly about her being dead. It’s bullshit, I tell her, what the actual fuck happened? There are a couple of unsolved things, one that I’m sure is answered in her diaries, but I am still thinking that she wouldn’t want anyone else reading them. She burned a big pile of them many years ago.


What the actual fuck happened is that life and stuff happened and cancers happened and who knows which cancer killed her in the end. Fuck the collective cancer. There is much to be grateful for. I can’t list that stuff now, I’m tired of these leaky eyes, they need a little rest. I don’t hate easily. But cancer. Argh. Fuck cancer with someone else’s syphillitic dick.

My neighbour (the nice one) said, I’m so glad your mom didn’t know about the bipolar. I was taken aback. I think she’d have been consoled by the fact that it wasn’t all down to the child abuse. Maybe she’d have been able to forgive herself a bit. Futile thoughts, those. My neighbour says she’s glad I’m so much like my mum, that she finds it comforting. I wish nextofkin wasn’t so far.

Poxy damned hellfucked leaking eyeballs. I know weeping is good, but not right now. Not with Noah unavailable. Let me go find some music that sje liked – not those last songs, they’re rather sacred to me now. Like me, she usually preferred male vocals, guitars and ballads. Unlike me, she didn’t feel compelled to be hipsterish about obscure music etc. Me, her and nextofkin were constantly trading and recommending music. We are/were rather obsessive about it.

I’m done writing about it for tonight. I feel better for having done this one.

leonard cohen – take this waltz
queen – bohemian rhapsody
dire straits – brothers in arms
coldplay – viva la vida
tom petty – the golden rose
eddie vedder – rise
robbie robertson – golden feather
buffy sainte marie – starwalker
john trudell – bombs over baghdad
mark knopfler – je suis desolé
james blunt – beautiful
the killers – human
james morrison ft nelly furtado – broken strings
r.e.m. – the great beyond
crowded house – weather with you
midnight oil – blue sky mine
yothu yindi – treaty
robbie williams – sexed up
charles aznavour – la boheme
david gilmour – on an island
ismael lo – jammu africa
bright blue – weeping
bob dylan – the ballad of frankie lee and judas priest
alice cooper – welcome to my nightmare
metallica – enter sandman
smashing pumpkins – bullet with butterfly wings
lionel richie – dancing on the ceiling

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