And that was the final word on the occasion. Yesterday was the funeral of a mother, a grandmother, a sister and a dear friend to so many people, including myself. A day we have known as been coming for a long time now, but never knowing for sure how each of us would feel and react on the day.
This uncertainty has loomed over me for over 3 years, and in the past year losing John, Tas and Graeme, but failing to grieve in any way, I have wondered if I was saving it all up for mum. This curiosity has eaten away at me for so long now, and mums passing, then her service were always going to be the true test.
Strangely, to some at least there has been no grief, only a small period of mourning, and some fond recollections of our years together, first as her child, then a friend, and ending as her carer and companion making her final weeks as comfortable and dignified as possible. It may surprise people, but I have to say that the whole event has been a huge relief in so many ways.
No more suffering in pain, or taking tablets to appease others. No more appointments, examination, worries or stress. No more feeling that she was a burden upon us, nor needing to apologise when she felt she had put us out of our way to do something.
A mother and a dear friend is lost forever, and I cannot say that doesn't sadden me. No longer can I get her hooked on new TV programs, talk to her about my day, or make her proud of my next achievement in life.
However all that said and done, I have 38 years of memories, silly stories, times of comfort, experiences of wonder. I have learned so much from mum it is unreal. Common interests, shared beliefs in the world, and times of happiness and sadness, always shared.
I am the son of an amazing woman, and I will forever carry her in my heart. Doing things in her honour, making her proud whenever I can. Remembering all she has ever taught me, and most certainly the lessons I learned in the past few years. To never give up, rise in the face of adversity, be strong whenever the occasion calls, but never be afraid to show your true emotions and feelings when the time is right.
I have seen a few people in my life battle such cruel diseases, each one of them eventually losing their battle. But none have ever refused to face their opponent. None have rolled over and said "take me". I am so choked to have lost these wonderful people from my life, but so very proud to have known such strong, determined, and wonderful, warm individuals. Always trying to rise above their issues to maintain a normal life, always wanting to help other people rather than dwelling on their own problems. I am truly blessed to have known you all.
For me, my journey continues. For every day I am blessed with, I feel a duty to live it for all. Not always an outstanding memorable day. But a day lived for all, appreciating the gift of life I have, and never daring to be ungrateful for another day surrounded by such wonderful caring people. People I shared mums final journey with yesterday. Close friends, family and neighbours. Their presence there made the day an outstanding and fitting tribute to such a strong woman, so I thank each of you from the depths of my sometimes dark heart.
As I listened to the tribute to her be read, I smiled. I loved the simplicity, yet beauty of the casket, as she would have too, and just pictured mum there, finally resting, in the knowledge that she has been an amazing mother, and done her children proud and beyond. Hearing the all the things she has done in her life, I could do nothing but smile with love and honour to mum. Standing to read my own words I chose not to read my pre-written piece, but to speak from my heart, thanking all present for sharing this final moment with us, and reflecting on the pride I live with, the lessons learned from my mother, and how she will forever be present.
As I contemplate my next move, I do it in the knowledge that my mind is once again free. Free from stress, worry and anxiety. A little depression remaining but that is purely down to money. A weight has been lifted, and while mums body is free of pain now, I am also free, but of strain. It is hard to comprehend how much pressure you can find yourself under during times of long term terminal illness, unless you have been there yourself. To those who have, I salute you, to those who are on this journey now, I offer my support to you, and for anyone who isn't, if you know someone who is, give them your hand to hold when times are hard, your arms to bare the load when the pressure is on, and your heart to allow them to share their worries and sadness.
My heart is with my other friends who have loved ones who are fighting this battle now. As I regain my strength I offer my hands and heart to you whenever you need it.
I will finish up by explaining the images attached, and a few closing words.
The image of the flower is a lily mum took great pride in. Growing in the pond at home. The picture was taken by me on my first DSLR camera, and an image she took with her to hospitals, hospices and the final home. This will end up as part of a tattoo I am having done in her memory.
The flowers and card are those at the chapel after her service. Wanting no fuss, only a few flowers were brought along, as she preferred the beauty of them growing, rather than cut and wrapped. But thank you for those who brought flowers.
And the final image, well that's me. Trying to put together a look that would have made her proud. Pink tie and hanky to add colour and pay tribute with the official cancer colour. And a strange decision but Farah trousers, just like those bought for me at school over 20 years ago. Struggling to find the extra money to add towards my ILEA clothing grant for school, so I could have fashionable trousers and fit in at school. So mum, the Farah's are for you.
So onwards and upwards now. I shall return to strength while always remembering where I got my fighting spirit.
Thank you mum for all you have done for me, to raise me into a man you could be proud of. I am proud to say that Ann Snasdell was my mother, and that I am the son of an amazing woman, a great friend, and a soldier.
I love you mum, as much today as every other day, and will do forever. I miss you so much from my life, but know you will always be there in my heart.
Farewell Ann, friend, mum.
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