To Be Free by Ella Forster

12 December 2013

Death hovers in the room as he has for several days now. His presence has been noted on and off for years, but no matter how close he comes, still Death has not taken her. Unseen and yet felt in the skip of a heartbeat, in the hollowed feeling in the stomach whenever he nears. At first he was denied, then it was hoped he would leave as silently as he had come, but now it is different. Much as it hurts and leaves the stain of guilt, Death is welcomed. Hope for healing had been hoarded and fed on any scraps to be found, but it slowly starved and now the hope is placed in that hovering presence that had once been so feared. However, Death simply watches, leaving the strokes to do what they would. I sit and watch my Mum, once so beautiful and vibrant and can’t help but hope that soon, soon Death will finish what was started so long ago. Soon Mum will be free.

12 February 2014

The urn arrived today. It seems so heavy until I think about what I am carrying. Anthony from the funeral home says there is no easy way to do this, but that is not true. The process of accepting the urn is easy; it is living without my Mum that is hard. It is hard to tell people. I want to say Mum has died but that appears too harsh and so I say ‘passed away’, as if that makes the loss any easier. It is hard to know she is gone and not just in her room. It is hard to not hear her laughter, to no longer sing together. This is all hard, and yet I am happy. Happy that Mum is no longer bound to a body that had ceased to function as it should. Happy that no more strokes will come. Most of all, I am happy for Mum. She is free.

12 October 2015

Mum is free, yet in some ways I am not. Part of this is good. I am not free of the love that was always there and is still a part of me. I am not free of the memories and Mum in is my mind every day. This makes me smile and warms my heart but it is not the full picture. Death has gone for now, but he has left a shadow behind. I am not free of the realisation that it is not death to be feared, but the process of dying. I am not free of the fear of feeling helpless when waiting for Death to come to one I love.

We will all die and are not free to choose otherwise. Yet we can be free to face death at our own place and time. We can be free to have a living wake with our loved ones, to say goodbye. So many people are left scared and with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. Death comes for us all, but sometimes he takes too long. Sometimes the pain is too much, the indignity crushing, and the harm caused to all too great. Euthanasia is not always appropriate, nor should it be encouraged, but it should be an option. I want one day to be able to choose my own death. I want to be free.

Ella Forster is studying a Bachelor of Arts, with an extended major in philosophy.

Photo by Brian Gonzalez.

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