It was quite embarrassing to have to stop her in mid-flow to say, “No this is Sally, her daughter” followed by, “I’m afraid she died 4 years ago.” Of course it was difficult for Sian as well partly because it showed how long it had been since she had last been in touch and partly because, like most people, she found talking to a bereaved person to be an uncomfortable experience.
Despite this awkward start we had a 20 minute chat and I learned a few things about Mum’s university days that I didn’t know before. It seems as if the last time Sian and my Mum spoke was about three months before the accident. Sian was surprised that there hadn’t been any mention of the accident in the old student’s newsletter but the reason for this was simple – I hadn’t thought to send any notification to the editor. Sian has now offered to do this.
When people die there is an almost unending list of people and organisations that have to be told and so the less urgent or less important ones tend to get overlooked.
Two days later I got a phone call from my former lodger. We shared the house when I was still at school (yes, that long ago!) so I was very surprised to hear from her. At first having her living in my house had worked really well but she didn’t live to the promises she made when she moved in. She had long spells of working away and she didn’t give me much notice when she moved to Belfast. She paid all the money she owed me so that wasn’t the problem but it was only a few days between her telling me the sad news and her leaving me for good. She sent me a three line note when she started her new job and that was the last time I ever heard from her until this week. I did feel that I had been rather exploited by her and that perhaps she wasn’t always totally candid with me so I wasn’t altogether sorry that I didn’t have a spare room for her to rent!
It has felt strange looking backwards twice in quick succession. When bereavement strikes you have to discipline yourself to keep looking forward – you would never get through the nastiness otherwise – so interacting with people from the past still feels rather strange.