Sunday, 5 June 2011

Visiting Hour

And so the dreaded call came. Mum died at 11:30pm in Britain last night. So many thoughts and reflections have rushed through my mind since then.

I know it's sombre, I know it's melancholy - but I am reminded of the great Norman McCaig who's poem 'Visiting Hour' sums up so much of what it feels like...

(I'd like to thank everyone for their kind wishes and thoughts at this terrible time - Rory).

Visiting Hour

The hospital smell
combs my nostrils
as they go bobbing along
green and yellow corridors.

What seems a corpse
is trundled into a lift and vanishes

I will not feel, I will not
feel, until
I have to.

Nurses walk lightly, swiftly,
here and up and down and there,
their slender waists miraculously
carrying their burden
of so much pain, so
many deaths, their eyes
still clear after
so many farewells.

Ward 7. She lies
in a white cave of forgetfulness.
A withered hand
trembles on its stalk. Eyes move
behind eyelids too heavy
to raise. Into an arm wasted
of colour a glass fang is fixed,
not guzzling but giving.
And between her and me
distance shrinks till there is none left
but the distance of pain that neither she nor I
can cross.

She smiles a little at this
black figure in her white cave
who clumsily rises
in the round swimming waves of a bell
and dizzily goes off, growing fainter,
not smaller, leaving behind only
books that will not be read
and fruitless fruits.


  1. I am very sorry for your loss.

  2. I thought your Mum might like you to read this. Thinking of you...

    Death is nothing at all.
    I have only slipped away to the next room.
    I am I and you are you.
    Whatever we were to each other,
    That, we still are.

    Call me by my old familiar name.
    Speak to me in the easy way
    which you always used.
    Put no difference into your tone.
    Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

    Laugh as we always laughed
    at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
    Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
    Let my name be ever the household word
    that it always was.
    Let it be spoken without effect.
    Without the trace of a shadow on it.

    Life means all that it ever meant.
    It is the same that it ever was.
    There is absolute unbroken continuity.
    Why should I be out of mind
    because I am out of sight?

    I am but waiting for you.
    For an interval.
    Somewhere. Very near.
    Just around the corner.

    All is well.
    Nothing is past; nothing is lost.
    One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
    How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.

    (Canon Henry Scott-Holland)

  3. I cam over to thank you for your wonderful comment. And then I read your post and, though I'm a stranger, I'd like to offer my condolences for your loss.

  4. It seems that when your mother dies part of you dies, yet, because there's so much of her in you, in a sense she still lives on. I'm sorry she's not here for her own sake, but also because she's not still here to give you her love and to continue adding to you. Alec

  5. As long as your name is spoken and the stories told you will never die.....J. Espey....(my dad)
    Take care.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss .Be kind to yourself take time to grieve and remember her greatness.She will live on in memories and stories you and others tell of her.Please accept my deepest condolences.

  7. I'm sorry for your loss, Rory. I can't imagine what you must be feeling right now. *hugs*

  8. I'm so sorry for your loss...

  9. Oh Rory, I am so sorry to hear this news. My heart aches with yours. I am 47, and so lucky to have both of my parents living nearby, but my father's health is failing, and I dread the call that I know is coming not too far down the road.

    Warmest wishes, and big hugs,

  10. I am so sorry to hear your Mum has passed away. It is so difficult to find words to comfort you, but I am thinking of you. Take care and be strong.

  11. Annie - thank you - a poem with those sentiments was read at the funeral - Thank you again!

    Jennifer - that was very kind of you - and I'm moved by your kindness - thank you.

    Alec - Thank you - I'll miss her terribly but am determined to make her proud.

    mybabyohn - You;re quite right - nothing will detract from the memories she left us all. There are some things even death cannot rob you of.

    Fear not the darkness - (I'm gonna have to look around and find a name for you lol - I feel like I'm talking to a character from Dungeons and Dragons when I say "Dear Fear not the darkness lol") Thank you! The grief will never end but the mourning must. And so I'm ready to get on with things again.

    Kyna - Thank you - really deeply appreciated - good to see you around again!

    Laura - great to hear from you and your thoughts are deeply appreciated.

    Sue - It's hard I know - it's a day we fear, push from our minds - and yet as they say - nothing is more inevitable. I sincerely hope your Dad takes a turn for the better.

    Sue - all the words necessary are right there in your comment - you thought about us - and what more could anyone ask than to be thought about. It's really appreciated.

    Ok - the show must go on as they say - and that's where I'm heading now - back to writing!


  12. Marjorie - sorry I thought your comment was in another blog post and I headed off there to answer it before realising it is in this post.

    I really can't thank you enough. I can't thank everyone enough - you raised a smile of thanks on the most distressing week of my life for many, many years. Thank you Marjorie!