Sunday, 22 May 2011

Re Birth Day

What an odd, very unexpected, exhausting but beautiful week it was.

I have procrastinated as to how I’m going to write about so much, not wanting to detract from Zander’s big day yet also wanting to capture the peace and reflection that came with my Grandma’s passing. 

I'll start with re-birthdays...

I put everything except Zander’s birthday on hold last week, spending every last moment I could with my Grandma, even biking the twelve miles from our house to her rest home and back on Wednesday evening, anything to hold her hand one more time.

Radically, for me, I joined in a prayer when the chaplin came round to see them. I am not religious and ask anyone – I never pray when in church for weddings/funerals or the likes. It doesn’t agree with my own common sense, yet as my Grandma lay taking shorter and shallower breaths, more barriers fell and I felt all that was important was our humanity, all of us – the young, the old, the priest. What actual harm can it do me to wish alongside others for a peaceful space and journey for my Grandma, it won’t hurt. Perhaps faith is just faith no matter how we define our own, I believe there's more than meets the eye, so did she in a different way.

That was the last time I saw her. Goodness knows how, but she soldiered on until Thursday 10.10p.m. when she passed peacefully, held by my Grandad and my Mum as her breaths got shallower until they stopped.

I found Zander’s birthday eve a little difficult at first. For some hours I couldn't think of much other than my Grandma and her shallow breaths, eventually though I realised she would have wanted me to be enjoying my preparations for my first born's birthday. She spent many years making the same preparations for her girls, reaffirming family traditions that were handed down to her from her mother, in so doing - handing it down to my mother as she has to us and now we do to our children.

As I baked the cake, cleaned and decorated the house, arranged the presents, prepared the breakfast I held this thought in my mind.... these are paths already well trodden by the matriarchs of our family – by my Grandmother, by my mother and now by me and my sister. I tread these paths and feel their energy, big wise matriarchal energy. Like ley lines.

The news came that she passed peacefully at ten past ten that night. I was glad we were all at home together the following day.

It was so beautiful, so peaceful my mother said. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by tears and pain that night, I choked an I’m so sorry as my Mama told me she'd lost hers, but after that I felt a ripple of peace and a shift in the universe.

I dropped the image of her tired body that had been consuming me that evening and I felt her everywhere, all around, in everything, in every particle and I swear I almost heard a sound like an ethereal boom in my mind and I saw her as she was before the Alzheimer’s took hold and I heard her voice say my name. I snuggled close to Cliff and let the moment and the peace wash over me.

I still feel her all round, I still feel the subtle shift in energies and feel her presence in everything, her imprint on the universe. And I am comforted by it, she is with our ancestors now and I am comforted in the knowledge I know an ancestor so well.

I’d like to thank her for her parting gift – the gift the experience gave me. Truly valuable, unquantifiably so considering my past hang ups about death. Although I am sad I shall never see her again I experienced how I think I'd like my final days to be – surrounded by and held by dear family, hearing the stories of our lives re-told and told for the first time to younger generations, the bubbling laughter of great grandchildren, familiar music, spiritual time, light, flowers, candles, love. I would like my final days to be like this and as older members of our family tread the same path I will do for them as I did for her.

Rest In Peace now Margaret Isabel Johnson
5th December 1925 – 12th May 2011.

Love x


  1. Much love to you and your family x
    Glad you were able to be with her in her final weeks.

  2. Love to you all.
    Death can be such a fear to the living, whilst a blessing to those it beckons.
    May your Grandmothers spirit have eternal rest and peace.