I was driving home in the wee hours of Saturday morning, shortly after having taken this picture, when I realised that it’s highly likely that the weird routine I’ve grown to do will probably end before mid August: my mother’s cancer had once again upped its game and she’s now barely able to walk and can eat next to nothing. I gasped unvoluntarily and, for the briefest of moments, I feared to lose control of the car.
Life, and death even more so, has this uncanny capacity of throwing your plans out of the line and then, when you’re used to the new things, everything changes again by 180 degrees. This realisation struck me again a few hours ago, while I was keeping my mother company in her bedroom. She was playing Scrabble on my iPad, her tired brain trying to win against the system set on “easy”, while Classic FM aired Strauss, and I realised that in a few weeks – days, even – she might be gone and all my travels, all this, would stop.
My first feeling was of amazement. I’ve thought again and again about not having a home in my hometown anymore, and the feelings it brought, but today it really came down all together, all at once. You must be thinking that I have to be quite thick and I probably am, but I guess that everyone has an epiphany and today it was mine.
I’ve read that losing one’s home makes this person question, in his or her mind at a subconscious level, the feeling of belonging to a particular community. That was an article about foreclosures and even if my case is different – nobody is going to seize my property and sell it at an auction – I couldn’t but agree with it. My mother’s house is the place I’ve grown in; it’s the place I refer to when I think at home; that city, that region, is the one I use to describe when asked where I’m from.
To think that I won’t have such a safe haven anymore, that I won’t be able to revive my past in those four walls… it’s deeply unsettling. I know it sounds stupid, but the fact of not being able to say to others “Look, that’s where I’m from, my roots! My mother lives there, go call her” is something that fills me with anxiety. I need to find a new way to describe me, my origins and that’s not something I had ever planned to do.
So that was what I realised when sitting next to my mother’s bed, Strauss playing an ode to the blue Danube on Classic FM. Then I looked at her and tried to figured out what must’ve been passing through her mind, feeling your body slowly giving away and being increasingly close to the moment when all your beliefs about life after death turned out to be true or not.
And in that moment my problems seemed so little, so insignificant.