Every time somebody dies in Ma’s nursing home a blue card is placed on the door where their name once was. It’s like nobody existed. Their rooms are stripped and cleaned ready for the next resident. In the last week I’ve noticed two blue cards appear in the corridor to Ma’s room. The lady we used to hear calling, “I know” is now silent.
I feel bad that I didn’t know the names of these residents. Did they have family? Did somebody comfort them in their final hours? Did they pass peacefully? I now find myself walking past resident’s doors, on the way to visit Ma, trying to memorise names and looking for blue cards.
I know that one day, Ma’s door will have a blue card. That I will be required to strip the room of all of Ma’s personality in order for the next ‘resident’ to move in. Rooms are in short supply and somebody has to die for somebody else to move in. That’s how aged care works.
Death. It’s something a lot of us don’t want to think about. The loss of a loved one rips a huge piece of your heart out. It doesn’t matter how prepared you think you are. How ready you are to let them go. It still hits you like a Dementor from Harry Potter, sucking all joy and meaning from you. When a close loved one dies, it’s like you exist in an alternate reality or a bubble. You just surface dwell while the rest of you exists in a ball of hurt.
I’ve learnt to treasure the moments I share with Ma. Especially those times when she is at the top of the roller coaster that is dementia. Special smiles and laughs that we share that I tuck away in my heart so I can remember them in the future.