Thursday, April 16, 2009


It was two days after Christmas and my mother-in-law had been in the hospital for only two days when Graham and I visited.

We enjoyed a coffee together in the cafeteria and while she lamented the crappy hospital food in her typically vigourous way Graham raced about the room like a banshee.

Every time he darted out of sight, I chased after him and chastised him. And chased after him and chastised him. Until one time I held back for half a minute to finish a thought and was rewarded with an ear-splitting scream just out of my line of sight.

I dashed around the corner and there Graham lay, sprawled on the floor beside a table surrounded by a gaggle of grey-haired ladies who materialized out of thin air to cluck and tsk. He was sobbing as if his heart would break and blood was gushing from a nasty gash across the bridge of his nose.

I picked him up, cooed in his ear and wiped the gash. Then I led him back to his Oma where Graham allowed himself to be further fussed over while we discussed whether I should investigate the possibility of getting the gash stitched.

Ultimately I decided not to bother and Oma concurred. It was a rather nasty gash but I wasn't sure you could even put stitches on the bridge of the nose and I figured it was unlikely to scar - his lovely skin was regenerating so quickly, surely it would disappear in just a few days.

But over the next few months I watched that angry mark on his nose with a curious mixture of fear, uncertainty and nostalgia.

When it was still prominent enough to solicit remarks at the beginning of February I felt a little sick about my failure to take it more seriously. I wondered if I had done Graham a great disservice (and ruined his chances of being a teen model!) by assuming that it would clear up and disappear in just a few days.

And yet, as the weeks went by and my mother-in-law got sicker I felt strangely comforted to see that the mark on Graham's nose was still prominent and appeared relatively fresh. I remembered clearly how energetic and vibrant she had been on the day that Graham fell and the physical reminder of that day - the mark - was a way of reassuring myself that she had been in good health just a few days ago and therefore would be in good health again in no time.

It didn't work out that way of course: she died a month ago.

And yesterday, as I peered at the bridge of Graham's nose as has been my daily habit for three and a half months, I realized that all evidence of the mark is now completely gone too.

And even though I should have felt relieved that the evidence of my neglect was finally gone, I didn't feel relief at all.

I felt unbearable sadness, rather, and an inexplicable wish that my son's scar was still on the outside where I could kiss it and comfort him just like his Oma had done just two days after Christmas.

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Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

What a wonderful, touching post.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

How lucky you are to have had her in your life. It's hard.

Magpie said...

Oh, that is kind of heartbreaking.

I'm spending the night at my mother's tonight, for the first time since she died. It's weird, knowing that she's not here.

Heather said...

I can understand your disconnect, but I am happy he does not have a scar (as I'm sure you are, in reality). I'm sorry this is such a hard time for your family.

contemporary themes said...

Very poignantly rendered! I'm sorry for your family's loss.


Having just lost my mom 3 weeks ago, I find everything put into a time line of before, during and after........I hope you find peace and acceptance of her death. I hope I do too.

Ellyn said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I pray time heals your pain. said...

:( said...


Shauna said...

I wish that I could love my MiL as much as you loved yours.

Chantal said...

ohhh :(

Kyla said...

Oh, Kelly. So poignant.

Bird's Eye View Photography said...

We hang on to the littlest things when we have lost someone close, and yet they are no longer little... they matter SO much.

Charles in Hong Kong said...

Love your blog and very sorry for your recent loss.

I grew up in Don Mills and never knew it was Canada's first "planned" community. I attended Cassandra Public School, Milnford and then Vic Park. My dad is currently in the process of packing up and selling my childhood home on Underhill, where he (and my mom who passed away in 2002) lived for 45 years. Therefore, it resonates when you write that "there are changes afoot."

Really enjoyed your blog and I'll be back for more!

emma said...

Beautiful sentiment.

The memories will not fade away like the scar. Trust that.

Laski said...

It seems like such a simple thing, this tiny mark.

But I get it.

I do.

I remember my mom lamenting how she couldn't remember he mother's hands. I pulled her's out and held them in mine.

They're right here, I told her.

She is right there, too . . . in him. Around you.

Aunt Becky said...

I'm hugging you, friend. I've lost so many and I've always wished that it showed when I'd lost them. Like it was something people would cluck over and acknowledge. Because you can't just go up to everyone you see and say "I just lost someone and I'm very sad."

That would be creepy.


Jaina said...


JCK said...

I love how you wove all of this together. Something that you felt and experienced, and then you wrote it. Your MIL will always be remembered through you to Graham.