Baloo the kind-hearted, fun loving bear who always seems to land in his feet, now sits on my bed amongst my other cuddly friends. He has been on a bit of an adventure these past few weeks, one that could easily contest the journey he faced in The Jungle Book.
He was given to me a few weeks ago, a present from London, but he was only mine for a few hours. When my mum saw him, there was an instant connection and she adopted him as her own. That weekend we watched The Jungle Book with our new Baloo bear, the first film my mum had seen at the cinema as a child. When the carers came to wash and dress my mum, she introduced Baloo as the new addition to our family. She became so attached to that little bear.
My Dad became unwell, probably exhaustion from caring for my mum during the night, and slept on the sofa. I gladly took the opportunity to share my mum’s bed and brought her beloved Baloo with me. Even when my Dad took back his post and I was relegated back into my own room, Baloo stayed with my mum, and gave her company though her long, wakeful nights.
My mum began to compare me to Baloo, calling me well-meaning, but clumsy and absent-minded; telling me that she knew I had good intentions but I had a knack of getting it all wrong and making a mess. It hurt, and I began to resent that little bear.
My mum was getting sicker, and she was becoming less like herself and less able to care for herself. It felt like everyday my mum drifted that little bit further away. I began to feel nervous around her; would I do something that would upset her or would I neglect to do something that would put her in danger? Then one day, I forgot to bring a coaster into the living room. I put my mum’s tea on the table and picked one up from the kitchen, but when I came back my mum was leaning near my laptop spilling hot tea. I panicked, and told her firmly to put the tea down. A wash of guilt and fear came over me as I realised my stupidity, leaving her alone with the tea could have caused the wreck of my brand-new laptop, or worse, she could have scolded herself! We had changed roles of parent and child, and I struggled to accept that. My younger sister overheard, and came in to scold me. How dare I talk to mum like that! I was angry at myself for putting my mum in danger, frustrated that I suddenly had to take on the role of parent, physically and emotionally exhausted from supporting my mum and my dad. The beast took it’s cue and once again, I was roaring at my family. My mum cried and begged me to stop but I couldn’t. I desperately wanted to, I saw the tears streaming down her face but I couldn’t make the beast stop. I ran out and sat in the park, crying.
The next day, I sat on my mum’s bed and she picked up Baloo, who had tumbled out of bed in the night. She cuddled him and then sat with me, Baloo on her lap, and told me that I needed to take care of the bear. “Baloo needs lots of hugs, and lots of love. You see, Baloo is having a hard time. Baloo’s mummy isn’t very well and Baloo is very upset. He doesn’t want to accept it but he has to, because it isn’t going to change. Sometime’s Baloo doesn’t know how to cope with this and get’s angry, then Baloo really needs his friends to help him. Take care of him, Rose.”
As my mum got weaker, the nurses arranged for a bed to be put in the living room. Then Thursday 24th July, at 3pm, my mum got into bed and fell asleep. She’d wake briefly, just long enough for us to get her to the toilet and back, and then she’d disappear to her dreams. Soon, even the trip to the toilet was too much and she had to have a catheter fitted. She would lie there all day, asleep. Nurses and carers busied around her; friends and family surrounded her by day, and Marie Curie nurses by night. As the days passed by, she began to get irritable and frightened. She played with the medication bag and tugged at the catheter. And that’s when my sister decided to reunite her with Baloo. When she was awake, she would sit Baloo on her stomach and stare at him; asleep, she would cuddle him close. She showed so much affection to that little bear.
One morning, when my mum was awake and aware, Donna came to visit. During that time, that little bear paid witness as Donna explained how much Jesus wanted to be with my mum as she took the frightening step, how he didn’t condemn her for anything she may have done in her life but instead wanted to her to choose to be with him, so that they could take this next step together. My mum accepted Jesus and they prayed together.
Two days later my mum passed away holding that little bear. Her little Baloo.