#1 of 3 All the stars are in the sky

This spring I cared for my mum in the last days of her illness. I wrote several times during that period as a way to comfort myself. Here is the first of three blogs taken from some of that material. 


I have only seen one person die. 

Been with them at that moment – or series of moments. 

It was the father of a previous girlfriend. He was called Tony. She is called Jen. 

We hadn’t been together long and so it was a rather rushed intimacy and polite social dynamic to be with her family at such a personal time. 

I was so frightened. Frightened of not being useful or being socially awkward, frightened of seeing death, frightened of death, frightened of not being able to cope, frightened of making it all about me. I coached myself on the journey into each visit – to remember what mattered, to try and be a vehicle, a vessel for whatever the circumstance required. 

I didn’t know at the time but I definitely did after, and every day since, what a gift and privilege it was. Such a sacred and precious life experience. I learnt things – all the small steps of someone slowing down. How looks change, how time changes. How a family can hold space for it. And that death can be peaceful and releasing. 

After I felt euphoric – celebratory. So glad that I had made it through, that he had, that we had. He had taught us the last lesson a father can – how to die – and taught us well. It will forever be a blessing.

Now I sit with my mum as she slows.

Her eyes don’t open. Her mouth opens permanently but there are no words where I want them. But I am grateful for recognising the signals, having had an experience to give some familiarity to this unimaginable time in my life’s journey – and hers.

I think about Tony and ask that he will look after her if she needs it. Show her the way in ‘whatever next’ in the way he showed me on this side how to go. It is a comfort.

It reminds me of how much a gift that sharing was. That the thing I was terrified to be anywhere near – is actually so necessary to be a part of.

And even though Jen and I were only on the same path for a short time and have since found new relationships, I find a continuing connection from sharing that experience. 

And even though they never met and knew nothing of each other, I now think of our parents being connected in this universal journey. Like the lights of lamposts running down a long curving road. The light of one, and then the light of another, shaping the darkness.       

They say you meet someone for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I always thought that maybe I met Jen to accompany her on her dad’s passing. Now I think perhaps it was so her father could accompany me and my mum on hers. Time isn’t how you think it is. Space is spacious.

And as I open my mind up to this possibility I know my friend Jo’s mum is on the cusp of her passing. And there will be more with us. And I think about how my mum might light a lamp for her, then her to light the way for the next. The spirits of all our parent’s connecting. Their light comforting each other so that in ‘wherever they are’ no one is lonely or lost – no matter how far apart the links in the chain.

And together the constellation of their lights hold us up

– and gives us the heart to hold more.






hi, I read your blog and I could relate to what you wrote. I have seen death once, that of a young neighbor who took his own life. It struck me how it could all be over, that someone I grew up with is now resting in the ground and I will too someday. I'm sorry about your mum and I know that a loss like that of life cannot be replaced, I hope that you find peace with her passing and it becomes easier for you.

Posted by kishi

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