As hard as it is to say it - my mum had chosen to die; her long term illness had kept her in hospital debilitated and on dialysis. She chose to come home; she chose to come off dialysis; there was only one outcome. She wanted to see her birthday and Mother's Day; the timing was hopeful but not guaranteed.
As it was - and I am not surprised by this - she lived long enough to celebrate both special days and spent a few sunny and warm March weeks surrounded by her own mementos, flowers and cards with daily visits from friends and relatives. By the grace of God all four of us, her children, managed to get time from work; come from other countries and spend time together, taking our old familiar, family roles in the home we had last lived in as teenagers.
The night she died we had sat around the bed talking and laughing. It was my turn to be on watch; sleeping in the campbed next to her and within five minutes of my dozing off she had gone. Waiting, no doubt, for that quiet moment as people often do.
What was important to my mum was her home, her family and her friends so we had already agreed that she would not be moved until we were ready. The doctor's visit was discrete and the night-nurses made her 'comfortable'.
The regular visitors, noticing the closed curtains, called in anyway - often staying just as long as before. The nurses had rang round the duty staff and some made a detour on their rounds to say goodbye. Sympathy cards mixed in with the birthday and Mother's Day cards. The flowers were joined by candles.
I was thinking this year, that this could well have been the death that Jesus would have prayed for; if only there had been another way.
Then people realised that it was Friday; with the weekend ahead the phonecalls began. Registrars, funeral directors, booking churches and social clubs. The funeral directors arrived; compassionate but business-like. Appointments appeared to run like clockwork - her influence again, no doubt.
Suddenly, it was Saturday and the world that we had created in those few weeks began slowly to fall apart. The rhythm of the household unravelled. There was no need for the jigsaw pieces of travelling, shopping and caring to fit. The house could look after itself. Sitting quietly seemed self-indulgent when so many other things had been put aside for so long. Was it right to tidy up; to sit and talk; to clear away? What were the rules?
And the shift in perception - towards a person who filled the world with her presence and continued to do so. Was it wrong to be glad that the pain and frustration had ceased? Was it naive to believe that she was moving happily and freely in the garden she claimed Our Lady had promised her? Was it right to feel like an orphan, even at my age? To feel unable to honour all the promises she had wrung out of me?
That Saturday taught me the condition of waiting. A waiting that brought darkness to the days that followed. A waiting painfully full of questions that only time would answer. A waiting that seems to stop time. Emotions of grief, anger, frustration, even tears naming themselves but balanced in a vacuum of confusion whilst all around the world went on. I needed this day even though it seems useless; needed to stand in the threshold of two worlds, patiently or otherwise, and recognise that one world had ended.
This Saturday the world goes on and I remember my mother and the person in the tomb that gave me joyful hope for her continuing journey.
For Jesus who, year on year, will not have the blessing of a peaceful death, I will enter the condition of waiting. Sitting with the women who are waiting for the Sabbath to pass so that they can make their blessing. Waiting for the darkness to be over; for the Light to shine again.