I met traumatic death young. 15 to be exact.
On a rather lovely Friday 1 June 1990, I came home from babysitting the neighbours kids at around 00h15. I went into my parents room where they were watching some late night television, said my hellos and goodnight, closed their door and went to my room to prepare for bed / sleep / oblivion. It never came.
We had just moved to CT from JHB. Both of my older siblings had already moved out and moved on. My brother already married. My sister an independent woman.
The screaming started almost immediately. My mother. The worst noise I have ever heard, to this day.
It seemed to last an eternity. I will never forget that sound. Or what I saw when I opened my parents door again. My mother had managed to get my dad off the bed and onto the floor. And, in her own mad way, was desperately … oh so very desperately, trying to get my dad breathing again.
I didn’t even have half a clue what to do. So I did the only thing I could think of. I ran out to the neighbour’s house. I remember being hysterical. I remember being frantic. I don’t really remember words. Or banging on doors. Or making sense. I remember hysteria, and then the neighbour Shawn was there.
I remember screaming. And begging.
I remember Shawn trying and knowing. Deep down. I knew too. It was too catastrophic. Too fast. Too big. My dad’s heart – it just died.
So much screaming. I remember Shawn grabbing my mother and pulling. I remember my sister, Norine, suddenly being there, when she wasn’t before. I remember our house doctor, Dr. Perold arriving. The ambulance. I don’t know how all of that knew to happen. Or why it happened. Or who facilitated it all. It just was.
I remember Norine holding my hand and we got into the ambulance.
My dad was a big man. In stature and personality. I think. I don’t really remember anymore. I remember his laugh was big. It is one of the only things I do remember.
He looked like he was asleep. I hope that is how he looked. It is what I chose anyway.
One minute he was there. And then he was not.
Because his heart broke.
And the world shattered into shards that never really got put back together again.
My dad was just shy of 50.
Now. So very many years later. I have friends whose parents are starting to pass. Their experience not quite the same as mine. To be honest, I get a bit jealous of the time they had together. The relationships and shared memories that time affords people.
On the other hand – I didn’t have to watch my dad get old, or frail, or sick really. My memory of him, from the point of view of a child, is of a strong man struck down in his prime.
Death sucks. The actual act of it. Whether it is drawn out and wasting and traumatic, or quick and nasty and unexpected and traumatic. It is mean and cruel and oh so very human.
The passing on though. The moving through the veil to the God you believe in.
That is Grace. I believe that with every fiber of my utmost being.
It is a moment when your soul, that fundamental part of you that is you, is free again. Young again. Whole again. Loving and beloved.
And that is where you stay. Where you wait. In Light and Peace.
Just out of sight. Just around the corner.
Just for a moment.
Till the time is right.
My dearest Ronnage. Just, just out of sight.