About 3:30 this afternoon - Saturday 5th March - I am at rehearsal - Tchaikovsky 5th Symphony - we are messing about with the last movement, which requires a fair amount of intensity for the horn players. My cellphone in my pocket gives a buzz - which only I notice :-) - and at a place where we have 16 bars to count I take it out and there is a message from Susan: "Ring me when you can - important."
So I know that my mother has died.
No, nothing preternatural, no instinctive knowledge, but I feel pretty sure that is what it is about. I quickly text back "15 or 20 minutes," and continue playing.
In 2005 - don't remember the month, but I have an idea it was latish in the year - September, maybe? - Peter, my brother, tells me - on the 'phone, perhaps - that our mother is in bad shape, probably dying, and that if I want to see her, and if I can find the money for the trip, I should come now. A bit of a look at the overdraught level and, yes, I think I had better go. So I do.
She certainly seems in bad shape. She is not very responsive. She is on oxygen, needs constant care. She is, at that time, just 90. My dad, though a bit wobbly on his legs, due to a hip operation, is in pretty good shape, at 91. I spend the week and a half there that I had time for, then returned home and to work.
October, 2006 - my brother calls me. Dad has just died. As I recall, he was just visiting his doctor, perhaps for a more or less routine checkup - and keeled over, dead.
So Dad, who is in fairly good shape for his age, is dead. Mom, who is constantly in and out of danger, is still alive.
For the last six years, though, I have expected this moment, so it is not surprising that Sue's text means to me what it does. And so the case is. She had, I am told by various e-mails, been unable to eat anything for the last several days, and pretty unresponsive. I don't know details yet, but Johnny, my son, says that he was told by Peter that my mother went into something like a coma maybe 24 hours before she died.
Cremation will happen shortly, I suppose.
And for the rest of us, time goes on. I drive home from rehearsal, talking to Johnny on the cellphone. There is dinner to be got this evening. There will be rehearsal tomorrow, concerts next week-end. My mother will no longer be concerned with such things.
So it will be for each of us, one day. Time comes to an end. The world will go one. I do not know whether, dead, we will be aware of any of that. If we are, it will be through our love for God, I think.
I have prayed for my mother every day since I have been a Christian. I will go on praying for her. I pray that that spark of love in her which I, as her son, knew and recognised, covered over though it sometimes was by her self-will and passionate, fiery, nature, will find its fulfilment and rest in the One towards Whom, even if not recognised, it was directed and intended. Mom, may you find that rest that seemed often to elude you in life. May the tears you shed for us be rewarded and dried in the peace that you needed, sought, fled from at times, but which - I pray - will be your home. And may you be united, too, with those whom you loved who have gone before - my father, Jeremiah, your own mother and father, brothers and sister.
I will ask Father Peter to say Mass for you tomorrow, and on Monday, I will ask the priest at the Cathedral the same.
Lux aeterna luceat ea, et requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine