WATERMELON CHRONICLES | PARENTS | LOSS

When my mother died I was heartbroken and I still am

(in memory of my parents and all the parents in the world)

Francis Laleman
8 min readNov 14, 2023

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My parents on their wedding day in Izegem, Belgium — photo by a local photographer, 1949

When I mentioned the passing of my mother in a previous Medium story (here) I may have come across as casual and insensitive and cold — but I can tell you that when it happened I felt anything but untouched. In fact, I was left behind as a deeply wounded animal. And I still am today.

Pain endured

Life has been such that I was never around when my parents completed their journeys on earth. I missed the last days of my father first, back in 1999, and of my mother 7 years later, and however much I’d like to think that I have gone beyond attachments and craving and I have reached the mindstate of upekkha (equanimity), I can tell you with great honesty that having missed both my parents’ exit from this life has deeply scarred my innermost being and there isn’t a day in my life that I don’t think of it.

My father

I shall never forget the day I last saw my father. I was with Michaela and we dropped by at my parents’ place before going to the airport to catch our flight to Delhi — and of course we knew my father was unwell and after a few words he retreated and disappeared into his own room and an hour or so later when we finally had to leave I wanted to go up the stairs and get his blessings but my mother said it might be better to let him rest, he has been so tired lately.

This is me trying to get my father’s attention. It has always been like this. — photographer unknown

And that was it. Because we didn’t have any more time left and we couldn’t wait any longer and we had to go.

The last sight of my father was when he went through that kitchen door on his way to bed because he was so tired that even staying with us and talk some more was a burden too heavy.

Three weeks or so later Michaela and I were leading a group over the Marang La, locally known as the Mountain Pass to Certain Death (from the Sanskrit maraṇa-, the act of dying), high up in Ladakh, West-Tibet, about halfway as the mountain eagle…

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Francis Laleman

a husband, father, painter, writer, educationist, designer, facilitator. author of “Resourceful Exformation” (a book on facilitation) available from Amazon.