In the past months I started to realise that this walk is much more for me than a walk to show myself that I am able to do this, or for Alzheimer. It’s a walk I will take in memory of Miranda’s mother and my own mum.
I have never met Miranda’s mother, unfortunately. Just saw her on pictures or in videos.
When she passed away, I was taken back to the day my mum passed away. My mum passed away after being in a coma for 4 months, it was an awkward time. Because she was there, but at the same time wasn’t there anymore. You start to live in a twilight zone, daily visits to the hospital , every little information that is given to you turns into this big message of hope. I spent New Year’s eve 1996 beside her bed, telling her: “ Wow , if you wake up in the next few weeks, its going to be 1997 already! “
I also told her , while she was sound asleep, that I was gay. In the hope that I would see her reaction on the Heart Monitor, naturally I expected a huge increase in her heartbeat. But nada – so I figured that she wasn’t too shocked about it.
On the 27th January 1997 my father came to my room at around 21:00 in the evening saying that the hospital just called and that she wouldn’t make it through the night. What followed was probably the weirdest night of my life so far. I was able to say my goodbyes, saw her still alive on the machines, and when they had switched them off. The realisation had hit hard. She would never come home again.
6 months later I left for London, what was going to be a stay for 8 months to give me a break, turned into a runaway journey of 15 years. It was easier for me to cope with it being in London or away from Austria, because I wasn’t reminded of it every day. I was running. And so the death of my mother turned into something that didn’t really happen.
I remember when I had my first flat in London ( 3 years after her death). When all was decorated and I had moved in, I thought : “I am going to call mum to tell her about it!!” and then realised.. I can’t anymore.
Fast forward to 2005. Miranda who was a colleague from work and I decided we wanted to get to know each other better and went to have a bite to eat. That evening was the evening where our friendship started. I could so relate to her story about her Mother who had Alzheimer. That she was still there in person , but at the same time wasn’t there anymore. Miranda and I had a bond, and over the next years I would be part of her journey with her mum. And Miran took part in my own journey of finally starting the grieving period for my mum.
2010 Trees passed away.
I could so relate to her feelings of her mother’s passing. All the crazy feelings which come with it. I had 4 months’ time to say good bye to my mum, Miranda had years of it. And then it happens, and you are not prepared of the roller coaster of feelings which awaits you.
One believe we share is , our mothers wherever they may be now. Have met. They are laughing at and with us, they think of the weirdest pranks to play on us. And they are looking out for us.
This is the connection I have with her mum. I just know this is the case.
When we do something for Charity it comes out of a personal story. I walk for Alzheimer in memory of Trees Stokkel.
And in memory for my mum Brigitte Eder , to finally lay down my own grief after 15 years of running away from it.
So tomorrow when the going gets tough, I will think of these two and of my brother who passed away , way too early. And I expect all 3 to kick my butt across the finish line.
100km down memory lane.