Time never stood still when I sat beside my dad on his last night. Our world grew quiet, it certainly felt slower, but it never stopped. The nurses gave us space and carried on with their duties. I sat drinking hot chocolate at 2am, talking softly to him with a half finished game of soduko resting on my lap. That evening felt like it would never end and suddenly it was over in a fleeting moment.
All while the world around us seemingly remained unchanged and carried on as though nothing was amiss.
When I was on the farm, with my ‘nephew’ nestled snuggly asleep on my lap. While I was cracking jokes with my friends and fiancé in the car, on our way to our cottage to collect drinks and snacks. The world gave no indication that my mother had left us. The world ignored our loss, time did not stop and everything around me continued on as though nothing was amiss.
We all wish for the world to stop moving though, for time to stop, if even only for just a second. We wish for it to recognise the loss of someone so unique, blessed and special to us. We wish for that little extra time with loved ones. Time to process what’s just happened. Time to make sense of it all. How can we not expect it to not stop, or pause at the very least, when our world is so drastically altered forever. How can the world simply continue as if nothing has changed, when everything has.
Our family has lost many loved ones this year and in recent years, too many losses for one family to bare. I know of other families who have suffered similar losses in theirs. And no doubt, across the globe families are enduring losses which crush their hearts and bring their own worlds to a standstill.
But they live on in our memories and our stories. They live on in their loved ones and in the impacts, marks and deep etches which they have made in our worlds, and the greater world beyond.
We have no control over time, we cannot slow it down. We cannot predict how much of it we have each been given. Some people seemingly drew the incredibly unfair short straw, while others who don’t appear to deserve it have it in abundance and a rare few are fortunate enough to live an extensive, long and fruitful life.
On this last Thursday someone who deserved every second of every day, and so much more, left this earth.
A formidably strong, yet gentle, dedicated, loving and passionate woman. Who stopped at nothing to provide for her children, in less than ideal circumstances. A woman who became a widow in her early thirties with 3 young children in tow. Who taught her children to drive in spite of never having driven herself. Who worked 3 jobs at times to provide for her family, and always had place for anyone who needed a helping hand. Who raised not only her own children, but her grand children as well. Who stubbornly watched as her quaint little suburb and street was slowly taken over by drug lords and addicts who regarded her as their ouma and ensured nobody ever entered her property or caused her harm. Who took great pride in her beautiful flower garden. Who was always available to embrace and love you, yet equally quick to call you out on your bullshit with deep love and honesty. Someone who sat for hours on end, crocheting the most intricate items, from cushion covers, doilies, pot plant holder, dollies, socks and everything between. Who swore blindly every year, for as long as I can remember, that she would never again crochet socks for her entire family, knowing full well she’d be doing the very same thing the following year. Who made the best dam roast chicken and cookies in the world. Who marvelled in our miracle daughter and even on days where she had little to no energy, was always able to offer at the very least, a smile and quick chat to Charlotte and share a biscuit with her.
She was a daughter, a sister to four siblings, a wife, a mother to three children, grandmother to 8, great grandmother to 6 and great great grandmother to 3. A shoulder to cry on, the voice of reason and logic, the provider of tough love and so much more.
When I sat with her three days ago, I knew our time with her was limited. I wanted the world to slow down and stop for a moment. I wanted for it to acknowledge her greatness and impact. How could it not???
Yesterday morning she left this world, after spending 96 years here. Deeply etching herself into its surface and in the generations of our family who have followed in her footsteps. The word didn’t stop at the news. But our part of it grew quieter, sadder, and a hole was created that will never be filled.
Knowing that time stands still for no one does not mean that their loss is insignificant though. As her family and loved ones move forward in life without her physical presence, we are reminded that we are never truly without her. We are on this earth because of her. We grew up with the passion, love, morals, ethics and skills taught by her. And so shall our daughter be raised. Knowing that she comes from a long line of incredibly strong willed, compassionate and determined women who have shaped her before she was even born, to live life to her full potential, seizing every precious moment.
There is a strange and beautiful calm in knowing the world doesn’t stop turning in these moments. That, in spite of our losses, joys, sorrows and mistakes, that the world hasn’t come to a complete standstill. That tomorrow there is still an opportunity for us to make right, find love, discover new talents, embrace new friends. After all, time doesn’t stand still for anyone and the world doesn’t stop moving. We aren’t all promised tomorrow, so best we do the very best with the days which we have. None of this is in our power to predict or control. What we do have control and power over is how we choose to spend it, and with whom.
I see reminders of my parents in my beautiful daughter daily. My moms infectious, delightful laughter. My dads cheeky grin, his sharp features and old soul eyes in her face. She never got to meet them, so it’s up to me to ensure that she knows what remarkable grandparents she had as she grows.
Our daughter also has such compassion and determination. With a truck load of stubbornness that will no doubt see her well in life, and which more often than not has us torn between pride and frustration depending on how she chooses to implement it. These traits she has inherited from her great grandmother. My ouma.
Rus in vrede liewe Ouma.
Ons sal jou altyd lief hé en jy sal nooit uit ons harte stap nie.