A LETTER TO MY DEAR, LATE MUM
I am writing this letter six years after you left this world. I hope you are in a better place now. I have written to you several times since your death as I buy a card for each birthday and Mother’s Day. I go to an old-fashioned teashop in town and order a pot of tea with toast, and marmalade, just like you had for breakfast every morning. I feel your presence as I write loving words to you. I imagine you are sitting on the other side of my table, and I talk to you, in my mind, about all the happy times we had together. I keep the cards in my bedside drawer along with the keepsakes that I chose from your belongings, including your pale blue and white checked shirt that you wore so often. It was worn thin and frayed at the cuffs and collar because you didn’t want to pay for a new one. You were raised to make do and mend like many of your generation.
I’ve written to you before about your moving but beautiful funeral. It was a celebration of your life as much as it was saying goodbye to you.
A couple of weeks later, in the middle of January, it was your interment. It was chilly and overcast, and a few spots of rain had begun to fall. I felt anxious that day, not knowing what to expect, not having attended an interment before. I had travelled the forty miles from home to Golders Green Cemetery and met Jill, a year younger than me, who was already there. She had flown over from Australia. We called in at the Reception Office to let them know we were there and waited for my other sisters, Lindsay, Anna, and your sister, Ellen, to arrive.
Twenty minutes later, they’d all arrived, with Anna and Lindsay carefully carrying a sturdy but pretty box with your ashes. It was painted with an image of a beautiful garden in summer – blue sky, lush green grass and pink and yellow flowers. We had chosen it carefully because you were always so passionate about your neat and tidy garden. It was where you loved to be at every opportunity. It seemed only fitting. You wouldn’t have wanted a dark, sombre urn to leave this world in.
Shortly, the graveyard attendant took us to the place where you were to be laid to rest. One by one, shedding quiet tears, we said our goodbyes to you as the box was gently lowered into the ground. As the last of the earth was thrown into the plot, what felt like a miracle or sign happened. Just as we were laying our carefully-chosen pebbles on your grave, as is the custom in Jewish cemeteries, the rain stopped, and the dark clouds in the sky cleared. We gazed upwards to see bright sunshine and a blue sky. Despite it being January, the sun was surprisingly warm. As we looked around, we saw lots of butterflies (a couple of Tortoiseshells, a Red Admiral and several Cabbage Whites). Then, we heard the buzzing of bumble bees and watched as they collected nectar from the daisies surrounding your place of rest.
There was an old, battered wooden bench nearby. We sat side-by-side, gazing around at the signs of nature that had come to pay its respects and to say goodbye to you. As we left the cemetery, the sky clouded over again, the chill wind returned, and a few drops of rain fell onto the windscreen of Lindsay’s car as we left. I’m sure it was a higher power that had sent us those joyful moments amidst the sadness of our loss. I’m sure you would have felt the same had you still been with us.
I miss you very much, Mum, but I’ll never forget the special times we had together and the many, many conversations we had on the phone. You were always there for me through thick and thin, and I was always there for you, too. I am eternally grateful to you. You will be forever in my heart and my mind.
With all my fondest love,
Ellie xxx 💝
Photo by Mariya: https://www.pexels.com/