Bereavement doesn’t have to mean suffering. It can be a period of reflection, from which we, the survivors, draw comfort and strength to face the future without our loved ones. I have been close to my Dad this week as he recovers from surgery at our home. It was also our 20th Wedding Anniversary and the start of Wimbledon fortnight, always a highlight for Mom. I thought Dad might remember our Anniversary, but instead he stared into his bowl of cereal and said in a very serious and small voice ‘Mom has been dead for 10 months today’. Of course, I already knew that. I still wake every morning, reflecting on the way we lost Mom to cancer, but I don’t feel the need to off-load those thoughts on my Dad. He has enough to deal with.
I do wonder though if he is dealing with his bereavement by constantly reminding himself of Mom, because if he doesn’t, he might forget her. I know he will never forget his partner of over forty years – how could he? Her presence is all around us.
And in Wimbledon there is a perfect example of that. Mom loved tennis and played for most of her life. In fact, she and Virginia Wade (who won Wimbledon in 1977 during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee) played tennis together as young girls in Durban in the 1950s. Mom never missed Wimbledon, watching avidly on the TV, until her first visit to the Championships twelve years ago. She went several times after that, and always felt so lucky to have done so.
We grew up in the Bjorn Borg era of tennis, Mom’s real tennis hero, but she was, at heart, a lover of the game at ground level. So, this first year of Wimbledon without Mom, I’m flying the flag for armchair tennis watching – and I’m loving it!