Real life: "You are young and you mourn something"

15 May 2021Updated: 4 hours ago | 52 people are reading

Real life:

© Grazia Real life: 'You are young and you mourn something'

Two years ago, Grazia journalist Lisanne van Sadelhoff lost her mother to cancer. She wrote a book about the process of letting go and intense mourning. Probably a pre-publication in Grazia. "It was quite a cozy deathbed."

The cake is finished

"When I just had armpit hair when I was fourteen, I didn't dare shave it. I had a great fear of everything that was sharp and I was not at all ready for something like adult armpit hair so I did not dare to look at it. But I wanted to get rid of it. It was my mother who shaved my armpits the first few times. I with my arms up in the bathroom, above the sink, and on the left, and on the left, on the right, on my right, my mother did that for me as she used to grease my bread. I dared to do it myself a few times and never spoke a word about it again, out of embarrassment.10 years later my mother was in the garden with a morphine pump, which with a tube every hour an exactly sophisticated amount of medication in her. "The cake is gone," she had said, and the doctor had it eagerly agreed, and we had heard it crying. We knew: Paola van Sadelhoff will be gone in about a month. My father, brother and I could have put her in a chair because she necessarily wanted to feel the sun on her skin and look at the palm tree she had received from her best friends. "He's doing great, isn't it," she said. "Mom?" I said. "Yes, Liesje." "Would I wash your legs and arms, and your hair?" That would be nice. Hm. Yes. Tasty. ""

"I grabbed a tub, filled it with lukewarm water. I took shampoo, her favorite, from Rituals, and shower gel, also from Rituals, also her favorite, and I started. Her hair crackled under my hands through the soapy water, my mother threw her head back, sun on her skin, do it sun, heat my mother because she was cold. "Fine, Lieske, thank you." "Shall I also shave your armpits and your legs, mama? That is done again. "She said nothing but nodded softly. I ran upstairs, got shaving cream and blades and smoothed her skin under her armpits and on her calves with the utmost care. There was nothing crazy about it, and I remember that I thought at the time: hey, how strange, there is nothing crazy about it. Just like my mother did not think it was strange to shave my armpits sixteen years ago. The circle was round. Too early. But round. "

" There is only one moment between being there and being no more: the moment of one's last breath. That moment suddenly came, on May 31 at 8 o'clock in the morning, when the sun shone through my curtains on my mother's hair and her lungs had more and more trouble getting oxygen in. We had spent the entire night in the living room. My aunt - my mother's sister - and my father both lay on benches on either side of my mother, I on a mattress on the floor with our dog snoring peacefully at my foot because a bed is better than a basket. If someone had benefited from the sickbed, it would have been our dog. "

Cozy deathbed

" My mother had woken up one more time. Her eyes were lighter blue than normal, I noticed, and she had murmured something. When we got closer we only heard it. "Toon," she told my father, "Toon, I've hid two more pairs of new shoes in the back of our wardrobe. I secretly did that because you always said that I had way too many shoes. "Then she went to sleep. We could not sleep. My father had turned on the fryer around midnight - for the first time without his wife's encouragement - and we all ate bitterballen and frikandellen with mayonnaise. It was quite a cozy death bed, just such a shame that the dying person did not get anything from it anymore.

Only when the sun rose a bit again, I was doomed to sleep. My aunt awoke me. "It is almost time," she whispered. I answered with the question "what?" And felt a bit stupid. We laughed softly, a little nervously. When I think back to that morning, it is as if I saw another daughter sitting next to someone else's mother. That is strange because we were not exactly attacked by her death. My mother's death was the moment we had been waiting for for ten months, to which we might have lived in the last few weeks. I have repeatedly thought: go doo-hood. I had already thought a lot about the moment supreme. I could draw in advance that it would be the most difficult moment in my life but also the most important. I would become a daughter without a mother, and I wanted to be there when she breathed her last, I wanted to experience it fully and consciously. For my mother, because I didn't want to leave her alone, but also for myself, because otherwise I thought I would never believe it. Even now my pursuit of perfection came into play. It had to be loving. Peaceful. I wanted to say something to her, and that she would open her eyes one more time and say something back. She just didn't say anything anymore and didn't open her eyes anymore. It didn't go like in the movie. It wasn't peaceful, it was downright to see my mother gasping for breath, for life. Could nobody do anything about this? I pressed the morphine button a few more times. "

Winding rivers of tears

" If I now think back to that moment, in which I was one hundred percent, I still believe not always that it happened. Something hard, something definitive, and yet: as if I made it up. I did my mother's pony well, rubbed her forehead, mom, we are here, we are there. My father held my mother's left hand, Aunt Annette her right, I kept rubbing her forehead, her wispy bangs tickled my palm. Tom was sitting at the foot of her foot. "

" I remember that I doubted that it was good that we all touched her. Do we have to let go before you let go, Mom? My father was not planning that, so he held on, palm against palm, fingers against fingers, wrist against wrist. He later said that that moment could have taken years. My mother inhaled. From. In. From. In. From. I'm still here, Mom. I'm always there, as long as you want. Are you still there? Mom? For a few seconds I looked at her mouth, which was still open, but no sound came from. Come on, I thought. Then just breathe again. I got a little angry with her. Breathe, do it! It felt so unfinished, such an exhalation without inhalation. It wasn't finished yet. Why don't you stay a little longer? My father leaned over to her. "Hello, honey," he whispered in her ear. His nose touched one of her strands of hair, which moved with it, and I wanted to shout that he had to stop, that her lock of hair probably moved because she herself moved her head. She's still there, stop, ho, stop, she's still alive! "Thank you for everything, my dear," my father said. I kept stroking my mother's forehead, over her peak pony, I didn't want to stop because she was going to be cold and she wasn't allowed to get cold. Twirl rivers of tears slid down my aunt's cheeks.

My brother, too, cried, smothered, the dog pressed against him, and his mouth seemed to want to say "no," but there was no sound. from. He started slapping his flat hand on the living room couch. Pats. Pats. Pats. With every blow Tom produced, reality penetrated further into our minds and hearts. Pats. Death. Pats. Death. A blob of snot tasted salty in my throat. Pats. She was gone. Pats. I no longer had a mother. Pats. Funeral. What clothes will I wear? Do you still have that purple blouse somewhere? Mom? "

You are young and you grieve can be ordered via and

Text: Lisanne van Sadelhoff | Image: iStock