My Heart, Your Home: A conversation could change a life   

Saturday, 8 September 2012

A conversation could change a life

At 8pm on Wednesday night I heard my phone ring. I missed it. Seconds later, Anthony's phone rang. As he answered it, it stopped. Moments later my phone rang again. And I knew... there is something wrong. I answered the call only to be met with a voice so distorted by tears and sobs that I could not identify who it actually was. Through the mess of words and tears I heard...

"Aunty Sue has committed suicide"

...Followed closely by heaving sobs and heart breaking tears and concern, a voice and words full of concern about my Ma. My 85 year old Ma, who spends her every waking day taking my Aunty Sue to doctors appointments, to clinic time, to hospital visits. My 85 year old Ma who has never stopped mothering her 57 year old daughter, my 57 year old Aunty.

I rushed out the door and into the car and made the mad dash up to my Ma's house to just be with her. To sit and talk, cry and laugh, plan and organise, deny and accept. My Sister and I both sat with her, all three of us sipping on tea with foggy minds, teary eyes and aching hearts.

The following four days have been emotionally charged, with all sorts of mixed emotions. My Aunty was a very sick woman, in a lot of pain, constant, chronic every day pain. She was also very lonely. So alone. More alone than I care to admit. I feel a sense of relief for her, relief that she doesn't have to be in pain anymore. I feel a sense of understanding, I understand that her life did not have enough quality and perhaps warrants the need to leave. I feel a sense of anger, anger that she could leave my Ma behind feeling like she should have done more. I feel a sense of sadness, sadness that my last words to her were "I'll see you soon", and hers to me "I hope so", but now I never will. I feel a sense of disbelief, why did she want to leave this world in this way. I feel a sense of worry, I worry that her departure from this world was just as painful as her last 10 years. I feel a sense of frustration, frustration that my very last memory of my Aunty is that she gave up.

I want so badly for my Aunty Sue to be in peace, I want for her to have died in peace. The thought of her feeling sick and vomiting, feeling weak and regret, in her very last moments is what keeps me awake at night. I want for her to have fallen asleep, peacefully, for her to have slipped out of this world as perfectly as she slipped into it. I don't believe in God, but I pray to him, that he had enough grace to be able to have given her that.

I like to think of my Aunty now in a better place, in the body that her mind remembers her having, happy, healthy, fit and carefree. I like to think of her in a place full of love and forgiveness. I would like to believe that she is now there with everyone else who has slipped away from me and this world and arrived in the next. My Aunty, sitting at a dinner table with my Step Dad, with my nephew, with her Uncle and Aunty, with her Grandparents. With people that love her and will care for her, I want to believe that she is in a place where she will never feel lonely again.

And when I see her again, I will make sure, that she is never alone again. Nobody should feel that alone. Ever.

Four days before National 'R U OK?' day, my Aunty wasn't OK. She was sad, lonely and in a lot of emotional and physical pain. Four days before 'R U OK' day, I didn't ask if she was Ok. Four days before such an important day, I did not comprehend the importance behind such a huge question. But today, on this National day, I finally understand. 

Are you okay?

Why don't we ask that question enough, why don't we listen to the answers? Why, when we know that someone is "down and out", do we ignore it? Because that is exactly what we do, we leave those people alone and we wait for them to be ok again, then once they are, we welcome them back into our lives. Why? Yes, it is hard to deal with somebody else's pain, but how selfish of us to "protect ourselves" by avoiding the topic, protect ourselves from their pain because we don't want to feel their sadness. That is not what family should do for one another, that is not how friends should treat each other. 

This world can be such a cold, gruelling and painful place and we really owe it to each other to hold each other's hands and walk through the world together. No one should be alone and ignored and avoided. No matter the cost of your own self preservation. We all deserve to have someone ask us, and care about the response, are you okay?

I don't want anyone to have to feel what my Aunty Sue felt on Wednesday, or for the months leading up to Wednesday so today I ask you to please, please, ask your loved ones...

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