On the 14th of march, 2012, my Mum died.
Since suffering a series of strokes, she had been in a virtual coma for some time. The hospital put her on to the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway’, which involves removing food and water, and ‘allowing’ someone to die of natural causes, when they are beyond all other help. She was monitored, washed and turned, and her lips were moistened with a solution, to spare her the worst ravages of thirst.
As it had always been her wish not to be kept alive by machines, or to spend an age on life support systems, I readily agreed to this at the outset, expecting it would all be over very quickly. I had no idea then how it would drag on, how her weak body would cling on to the slightest vestige of life, and fight to survive. Visiting her every day to watch her groan and suffer was almost more than I could bear. I pleaded with the doctors to give her something to drink, and perhaps to feed her through a tube. But they had commenced their ‘Care Plan’, and there was no going back.
I began to dread walking into her small side room, knowing what I was about to witness. She had no idea I was there, but she still writhed around in the bed, made horrible noises, and pointed to her mouth. I felt completely helpless, as well as being ridden with guilt for agreeing to it. That last day, I returned home to my Camden flat after the visit. The nurses had been very kind to both Mum, and to me. When one of them rang me very late to tell me she had gone, I felt relieved, for her and also for myself. That is a day I will not forget. And I will never forget my Mum either.
Rest in peace, Mum. You will always be remembered.