By Liz Kreuger
The real troubles in your life are apt to be the things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Ever since I heard this lyric, it stuck with me. I’m not entirely sure why, but on 7 August 2015 I experienced being blindsided at 4pm on some idle Tuesday (except it was 11am on a busy Friday). That’s the day my mum suddenly and unexpectedly made her grand exit from this world. My Friday night plans turned into a 12-hour flight from Hong Kong, where I was living, back home to New Zealand. Twelve hours is long at the best of times. At the worst of times, well, it’s the worst.
I’m an only child from a single parent family and Lynn was the person I was closest to in the world. Her sudden death was an experience of contradictions. In the week that followed, I was grieving her but also celebrating her. Her’s was the first dead body I’d ever seen. I decided to bring her home, so we could be together under the same roof. We put her in the living room. Her skin felt smooth, like marble. Her hair was still long and wild. The funeral director advised we keep the house cool and the cat away. That’s one of the funny things about death, one minute your mind is nostalgic, saturated by emotion, the next someone’s educating you about best practice for body preservation.
That’s one of the funny things about death, one minute your mind is nostalgic, saturated by emotion, the next someone’s educating you about best practice for body preservation.
During that week we had huge group dinners, gossip sessions, dance parties, we made frozen margaritas, we cried, we made a thousand cups of tea – all in her presence. I would not have made it through without the friends and family that surrounded me. By 17 August, her house was quiet again. And I was faced with the administrative side of death. Packing up 66 years of belongings, paying bills, collecting ashes, putting a home up for sale; all while coming to the realisation that that person isn’t coming back.