Life can change in a split second. The path in front of you just stops.
That’s what happened on a Wednesday in July 2001. Just an ordinary day. Mr. Simply Homemade and I were on the couch playing with our eldest girl who had turned 1 a few weeks before hand. The phone rang. It was my 14 year old sister.’Something’s happened’ she said. ‘Something is wrong’. She was distraught, I asked her what she meant. ‘Mammy isn’t here and the guards drove in but drove out again’ I asked her to put the phone down and I’d ring her back in a few minutes. I rang my Nana P. who lived just up the road a bit, ‘Oh Nikki’ she said and started to cry, ‘There’s been an accident’ That was all she said, she was crying, my Nana didn’t cry, this was serious. ‘Nicola?’…a man’s voice….’I’m very sorry to tell you there’s been an accident, it’s not good…the hospital….as soon as you can’
How do you tell your Nana B. that her daughter has been in an accident, that it’s not looking good, that we need to take her with us to see her? I’m not quite sure but Mr. Simply Homemade and I did that. I can’t find the words. It’s hard to explain, memories are sketchy, fading I guess. She came with us, we brought her to the hospital. We were waiting, lots of waiting, lots of questioning. Xrays were being done….perhaps it wasn’t as bad as they thought….wrong. We were brought to Intensive Care, my husband, my Nana & I. My poor Nana, we were brought into a small room and the most kind nurse held my Nana while she cried. She knew something I refused to believe.
Family gathered, my Dad and I had to deal with the doctors. He couldn’t do it alone, I didn’t think I could do it at all. Doctors telling me that my Mam, my lovely young Mam was unresponsive. Tests and more tests. 97% brain dead. It was the impact. When she crashed her car, she wouldn’t have felt anything. We had time to say goodbye. If I thought telling my Nana was hard, it still wasn’t enough to prepare me for telling my 7 year old brother that Mammy wasn’t coming home. There are no words.
Friends and family kept a vigil by her bedside until 12.36pm on Friday 20th July. The last goodbye. Machines were turned off. Time of death was called. She just looked like she was sleeping. This couldn’t be real.I spoke with my other brother, ‘What will we do?’ he said. ‘I don’t know…’
Despite the fact that she’d been in hospital for two nights, because of the nature of her death, we still had to formally identify her. That just seemed cruel.That was cruel.
I’d never had to plan a funeral before. Pick clothes for a coffin. Little things she’d want with her. Other people took care of other details. Should she wear make up? She didn’t wear make up much. Okay, remember her as she was. I can’t even recall who that conversation was with but it seemed to me to be such a strange conversation to be having at the time.
She was young, too young. She had so much to do, so much to see, so much to live for. Autopilot. That’s the only way I can describe how I functioned over those days. My wonderful Mam, the woman who told me manners cost nothing, the woman who put us first, the woman who gave us life and loved us, nourished us, thought us what was important, my Mam was gone. Just like that.