The flowers in Madeira reminded me of my mother’s garden in South Africa. She loved gardening and the plants grew well for her – they really had no choice as she urged and cajoled them into growth. Indeed, they hardly dared not flourish! These were happy memories, but then, as I walked round the Museum of Sacred Art her last day flashed into my mind, unexpected and unwanted, and I felt that awful overwhelming sadness again. I wanted to see her, and talk to her. But somehow, at moments like this when I cry out, silently of course, she is with me; somehow she knows and somehow she is there.
The mist is low this morning; a heavy, cold, dampness that wants to sink into my bones. It is silent, with only the occasional brave bird somewhere out in the greyness.
This time last year I was getting ready to return to South Africa; now it is five and a half months since my mother died. I need to talk to her this morning. And I long to be with my friend BER. I am suddenly overcome with fear that I will never see him again in this life – one day there will be a phonecall, or worse still an email telling me he has gone, and I will only have the sound of his voice in my head.
Being alone in the garden brings a kind of peace, but my feelings about my mother are still very fragile. They seem to take two forms: there is an almost ‘spiritual’ or ghostly aspect when I feel she is with me but in a disembodied way. I can hear her and I feel she loves me, and is with me – I am not alone, I am not deserted or rejected. It is almost like being wrapped in something warm and soft, and protective. And then there are times when I relive that last week of her life, and it is deeply distressing all over again. And now the few pieces of furniture, china and pictures from South Africa which surround me in London remind me of her physical presence, which has gone. And then I miss her. She cherished her orchids.