Merry Christmas, Mother

Hi Mother,

It's the first Christmas without you.
Strange that this time, it was not being physically far from you that hurt the most. We hadn't spent Christmas together for over 5 years... but every year I could wish you a happy Christmas and hear your voice giving me your blessing. This year, though, I wasn't with you physically, but the worst thing was that you weren't there for me to wish you a happy Christmas. Or to hear your voice or your blessing. I thought of you all the time, Mother. I'm sure you know that. And all I wanted for Christmas this year was a "phone call from Heaven". For obvious reasons, I didn't get it.

I imagine it must have been really, really bad for dad and sisters, since they always spent Christmas with you. They went to Dan's parents' house for Christmas. I spoke with them and even tried asking a couple of times how it had gone, but how can you ask your sisters or dad :"how was the first Christmas without Mother around?". That's just ridiculous, isn't it? Mine was good, I had all hubby's loving family around, as always. But the thought that you weren't around (that you aren't' and will never be again) hurts so much!

I saw this video on YouTube today. It's a video of a song I've always loved and I think you used to play on the piano. It's called Claire de Lune. The video is part of the Disney animation Fantasia and it reminded me of you, of your going up to Heaven. Of you being freed from all the pain that the stupid cancer brought you... of you flying freely towards the moon, guided by an angel... I always wonder what comes after that, and how happy you must be now, and how healthy you must be... I hope you can see us from up there and feel all the love we have for you and that we are trying to fulfil your dreams for us. I hope you don't see us crying, though. Or I hope you don't see the nights we wake up and can't go back to sleep, thinking of you, or whatever happened to you in your last hours on this earth.

I only hope you are embraced by our love and our longing for a kiss and loving words from you again in Heaven.

Eu te amo, mae.

Your oldest daughter.

The day I finally buried you...

Benca, mae!

I know it's been a long time, but lots of things have happened in these last two months. We're in our new house, but I'll write about that later. What I have to tell you today is that.... I finally buried you.... Please, don't take this the wrong way... You know how terrible I feel that I wasn't there when you died... I didn't have time to say one last "hello" or one last "goodbye" or one last "I love you". I was too late for your funeral. Thank God I will never remember your ~ pale? yellowish? purplish? ~ beautiful soft olive-skinned body lying there, cold, lifeless, surrounded by flowers, inside an ugly coffin (aren't they all ugly?). I am so glad of that! I may even try to picture it all, like trying to imagine what the most horrible nightmare or accident or tragedy would be like. But gladly, it will always be only in my imagination; not the real thing. To my eyes, you will always have a beautiful smile and a grumpy face in the morning! =)

So, how did I bury you? And why did I only do it today?

As you know, tomorrow is my MA graduation. You were supposed to be here, remember? But don't worry. I've got your ticket safe. It will be in our "treasure box". As my graduation presente, Craig is going to give me a writing shed! To put the writing shed in our garden, we needed to prepare the base, so we measured the size of it on the floor and we have to fill it with earth, from one of the corners of the garden. I saw him doing it and it reminded me of an undertaker throwing earth inside a grave with a shovel. It gave me goosebumps and I felt a know in my throat. And I asked him if I could do it myself.

Mother, burying you was hard. Physically hard. Emotionally hard. Craig wanted to take over it, but I said no. I put all my strength in it, digging hard and throwing the earth inside the base box. It brought stinging tears to my eyes, and the more I thought of you the harder I did it, thinking that that was the least I could do for you. I buried you under my writing shed, Mother, so you can be with me whenever I sit there to write, and to cry. And I will speak to you and you'll listen to me. And I'll read all the letters and cards and notes you've ever sent to me.... I've got them all, Mother; inside our "treasure box", which I will keep over your "overseas grave", under my writing shed.

Mother, 5 months next Saturday. Dad's 68th birthday. How ironic...

He's ok, by the way. Looking much better now than right after you died. I was heartbroken when I saw him last, Mother, but now he's looking fine. Please, Mother, keep looking after us from Heaven.

I'll be thinking of you all day tomorrow. You'll be in my heart and watching me graduate through my own eyes... You will be missed.

Love you to bits.

Your first-born daughter,


Three months without you, mother...


Benca, mae!

Three months without you today... But after a week of crying and desperately longing for you, I got great news today.

Again, for the third time (3 monthly anniversaries), something good happened on the 13th of the month.

I have a hunch that it's your own way of making me smile on what are so far the saddest days of my life... In fact, the number 13 is becoming a totally harmless number; maybe one day I'll even say it's my lucky number.

Also, mother, today is the day we celebrate Our Lady of Fatima, but of course you know that. And it was also the first day of my THIRD novena to the Mary Undoer of Knots...

Well, I am happy to tell you that on the 3rd monthly anniversary of your passing, mother, I got a new job!!!! I'm so happy about that and I'm wondering whether you have something to do with it! hehe. As you always used to say to us: a mother's prayer is infallible. Imagine when you have a "direct line" to your mother who has a "direct line" to God...

What's to come next, I wonder... You know, we really, really want to have a baby, mother... =)

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you a thousand times!

I'll make you always so proud of me.

I'll love you forever.

I miss you like crazy.

All my love,

Dani. xxxxxxxx

The first mother’s day without a mother

Cardiff, 12th May 2013 
                                                                         Mother's Day (the 1st one without you)

'Benca, mae! Feliz dia das maes!!!!!'
'Eeeeeeeeee meninaaaaaaa!!!! Thanks. God bless you!'

NOT. This conversation didn't happen this year, and it will never happen again. EVER. My heart is bleeding and all I can think of is that I've had enough. I don't want to play this game anymore. It's been 3 months already, can I please speak to my mother now. I NEED to speak to you, mother. I NEED to see you again. I NEED to kiss your soft cheeks, to stroke your hair and hold your chubby, soft hands....

I've been trying to explain to myself what it is I am feeling. The closest thing I could get to it, mother is this: remember when we used to go to the supermarket (Alo Brasil, on Afonso Pena Ave.) and you tried to make sure I stayed close to you at all times? Well, it feels like I'm a child again, and I suddenly can't see you around. That place is huge, and in my littleness all I can think of is that I can't see my mummy anywhere.... That little moment of panic of not recognizing the place, the people... and the most important and terrifying of all things: my mummy is nowhere to be seen. The heart skips a bit (well, it's been quite a few bits skipped since you've gone, mother), the breathing fails and the world just seems way too big for me without you in it.

Really, can we cut this crap now? Can you please find me in one of the long supermarket aisles? I'll probably be by the chocolates and sweets. Could you please just come back and we can pretend none of this has ever happened? Please?

I can't stop seeing you in my mind. Your smiley face is just too hard to look at, mother, so much it hurts, but I can't stop looking. And I can't stop wanting more of you. I know that we'll be together again and all that, but the thought of it taking so long makes it so unbearable that sometimes I wish it could be sooner rather than later. I know this is ridiculous, and that you'd tell me off for thinking that way, but I just miss you too much. I miss you too much to want to think about anything else, to do anything else, but think of you. Simple as that.

I spoke to Xu earlier today. She and Isa went to see dad this weekend, Mother's Day. And you know what they did, mother? Of course you do. They went back 'home' and they had to pack all your stuff. Your clothes, shoes, bags, everything. They had to go through your things on Mother's Day weekend, mother. I can only imagine how hard it all was for them. I know it may be selfish of me, but I'm glad I didn't have to do it. Doing it once was enough. Doing it one day after you were buried was enough. On the other hand, I guess I'd have liked to be there. I would have got inside your closet and closed myself in there, touching your clothes, trying to smell you, to feel your presence from inside a wardrobe! They would commit me into a mental hospital if they saw me!

Mother, I'm missing you like crazy. Every day, every troubled moment. In my childish ways I think you'll be available any minute. All I want is to call 'home' and hear your voice. But I know it will never happen again...

Happy Mother's Day, mother. I hope you are resting a lot.
I love you forever! xxxxxxx

p.s. Did you see?  I made you a card....  =)

Letters to my mother

Letters to my mother


Cardiff, 15th March 2013

Benca, mae!
I’m on the train on my way to work. I’m missing you so much!
I have your Tic Tac box in my hand and I’m holding it so tight, as if I could touch your hand. I remember you always used to offer us your Tic Tacs and I never wanted any. Well, there you go… I have them in my had very often now! J
Mother, I have news (Well, it might not be news to you, being where you are and all…): we’ve got a house!
We went to view some houses on Wednesday, your one month anniversary. Mother, I felt a bit weird all day. Actually, it started in the middle of the night (Tuesday to Wednesday). I woke up in the middle of the night, and with my eyes still closed I felt this chill all over my body, from head to toe, passing over me like a scanner light. I wonder if it happened at the same time you died, Mother. I’ll never know though; I was too afraid to open my eyes and didn’t want to wake Craig and ask him what the time was.
Then on Wednesday we went to view four houses. All of them in Pencoed. We really like that area. It’s easy for Craig to come to work in Cardiff and it’s nearly half way for me to get to work in Swansea.
The first house we saw was a repossession house. Remember you’d said something about that before? You told us to call a priest and ask him to bless the house if we bought a repossessed one. Anyway, the kitchen and the garden were beautiful and huge, but the bedrooms were tiny and claustrophobic. No way.
The second house was also beautiful outside, but would be too small for a family. Not good, either.
The third one… urgh! The owner was actually there while we walked around to see it and it was really awkward. As Craig said, it was the most uncomfortable 45 seconds! (that’s how small the house was! Haha)
Now.. the last one… Ah, Mother! You’d have loved this one! It’s a bungalow, in a corner plot, surrounded by a garden! The bedrooms are big and light. The living room is not very big, but it’s cosy and there’s a coal fireplace. So cute! The bathroom and kitchen are a good size, although in need of modernisation.
The area is also very good; one of the best in Pencoed. It’s in a quiet cul-de-sac and there’s a school less than five minutes’ walk away. The train station is less than ten minutes on foot, the motorway is very close (good for Craig to go to work) and there are also supermarkets, a dentist, a surgery and a swimming pool!
All Craig and I could think of was our children playing in the garden with our future dog, Benca. (he might be a Labrador)
Craig and I kept talking about it on the train, going back home. We kept looking at each other, smiling and saying: ‘Should we go for it?’
We looked like two children about to go on a ‘huge adventure’, walking further into the garden. Haha.
We got home and sat down with the house details, photos and floor plan (oh, how I LOVE floor plans, Mother! Any similarities? J)
We drew, scribbled, knocked down walls and built extensions in our heads. We talked and talked. We decided to go for it.
Craig woke me up before our alarm went off yesterday (before 5:30 am!) to show me the email with the offer he’d sent to ‘Barbie’ (our real estate agent, haha. You should’ve seen her, Mother. Definitely a ‘Barbie’ doll!)
The house was for sale for £114,950. We offered £108.000.
We went to work, anxious, waiting for a reply.
Craig phoned me later. The owner had refused our offer. Craig then offered £110.000 and he accepted!!!
When Craig phoned me back to tell me the house was ours, I couldn’t believe it, Mother!
I’m so happy, but at the same time it seems so wrong! So wrong that you’re not here for me to tell you all about it. You’re not here to give suggestions, to cheekily stick your nose in all our plans…
Are you sure that there hasn’t been a ‘blip’ in the universe and all this has just been a huge mistake?
Mother, Wednesday, 13th March, 2013, was an unforgettable day: one month since you’re gone; we finally found ‘our cantinho’. Craig and I are so happy, so close, so ready, waiting for Barbie to show up, under a hailstone rain and everything… Just magic!
Mother, I still get hungry sometimes.
Sometimes I don’t want to write. I just wish I could talk to you and hear you back! Are you sure it isn’t possible?
I love you Mother.
I will love you forever.
Dani xxxxx

Amsterdam, 6th March 2013.

Benca, mae!
It’s been three weeks today you’re gone… L
And I was on a plane again today. To Amsterdam. This time with Craig. Trying to hide. Trying to run away from thinking about you, looking at your face in the photographs and remembering that you’re dead. Yeah… D-E-A-D. DEAD.
Today, on the plane, one more regret to add to my list: I didn’t know much about you. And I never told you much about me, either.
I don’t mean the deep, complex thing that every mother knows about her daughter. No, I mean the simple, little details. Those silly things that could have made us laugh together, for example: what things really get on your nerves?
On the plane, this morning, there was this guy sitting behind us. He wasn’t in his seat. There was a couple who were about to sit apart (terrible, I’d hate not being able to sit next to Craig and hold his hand when we travel!). The couple would be able to sit together if the man wasn’t there. He didn’t even know which seat he was supposed to be in! Excuse me! Look at your bloody ticket!, I’d say, your seat number is there! Aff!!!
Well, there. I hate it when people pretend they don’t know what they are supposed to know, and when they simply don’t read what’s right in front of their nose! Argh! This always happens in work, but I’ll tell you about that another time.
Ok. Amsterdam. I think you’d absolutely love it, Mother!
Well, where you are now you’re well, healthy and fit, so I think that walking wouldn’t be a problem, right? I say that because, Mother, Craig and I walked for Wales!
The city is beautiful, Mother. There are canals everywhere (I know you’re not a big fan of water and rivers and boats), but it’s very safe. The only dangerous thing here is the traffic, but only for tourists, hehe. There are cars, trams, buses, motorbikes and bikes. LOADS of bikes. All of them go through the same streets, but it’s very organised. Well, at least the locals are organised. We, tourists, had better always cross the streets at the traffic lights, or we may get run over!
The bikes and trams and cars come from nowhere, anywhere and everywhere!
This time we’re staying in a houseboat. I don’t think you’d like this bit (for obvious reasons), hehe, but it’s really nice and cosy. What’s better, our ‘dinning corner’ has views of the canal! It’s lovely here! J

Letters to my mother

I’m thinking about you all the time, and regretting badly all the time we had and used badly, and the time we didn’t have because I was living so far and am still a rebel child. I’m also thinking about the time we’ll never had… because now you’re DEAD. Hunf! =/

I love you forever, Mother.
<3 xxxxxxxxxxx


(still 4th March – 5:10 pm)

Benca, mae!
Me, again.
I’m on the earlier train home today. There are so  many things in my mind, I had tons of work to do, but I just couldn’t focus…

It feels like I’ve got this thing stuck in my throat. It’s making my chest feel tight. All seems to be wrong, Mother. Every little thing seems out of place.
I’m stressed and impatient in work. I’m forgetful, I’m feeling weird things in my body, which I immediately think it’s cancer I’ve got and that I’m going to die soon, like you did.
I can’t leave Craig, Mother. I just can’t. Can you please ask God to let us (Craig and me) die together, in our sleep and long after we’ve had grandchildren, please? I always ask him that, but as they always say, a mother’s prayer is much stronger!
Mother, I’m very worried about the buying of our house. Craig is a bit stressed too. He phoned me this afternoon and told me that he’d spoken to a solicitor and that it’ll cost around £900 just to inspect it. We haven’t got this money.
Craig is viewing a two-bed flat tomorrow. I know we wanted a house, with a garden etc., but it’s been hard to find a nice one in a good area. This flat is in one of the best areas in Cardiff; minutes from a beautiful park and lake. There’s a lot of green around – the communal garden is huge, Mother! Perfect for doggies and children to play! J

However, there’s also the problem of the deposit. The money you’re going to give to us is still ‘blocked’ in the bank, so we don’t know when/if dad will be able to send it to us…

Anyway, you know me. You know how stressed I get with these things that are out of control for me. It’s just been hard.
Mother, I’m missing you. I’m missing you really bad… L
Today we got in the post a photobook that Craig and I had ordered. It’s ninety pages of photos of us, and of us with our families too. I can’t stop looking at the ones we’re together!
It hurts, Mother.
I need you.
Would you please ask God to let me dream about you?
I love you for all eternity.
Dani. <3 xxxxxxxxxxx


Cardiff, 4th March 2013.

Benca, mae! You ok?

Ha ha. What a stupid question! Of course you are well! How could it be any different? You’re in Heaven (yes, I believe that!) and now Maggie is with you, right?
Mother, when Isa told me about Maggie on Saturday, she was crying. She had just had a phone call from dad. She said: ‘It’s going to have to be me again, telling the news… To you and now to Xu.’
I felt sorry for her, for her to have to be again the messenger for the bad news, but I guess God always picks the messengers according to their strength, Mother. But then, you’ve always seemed to be the strongest one, Mother. Why did you have to go so soon? I keep wondering – in my ‘spiritual naughtiness’ – whether something really bad is going to happen and that God’s taken you to spare you of the  pain…
I hope it doesn’t follow a pattern: dad finds out, then he tells Isa, who has to tell Xu and me.

Mother, dad and Isa just look stronger. I don’t know if you can really see from where you are, but dad hasn’t been well. And Isa is barely ‘hanging’… And Xu… Mother, please be always with her. You may even stay with her longer, really. She’s going to be alone again soon, and I’m afraid she’s going to get depressed again. She still needed you so much, I think!

Mother, I’m still very angry. I’m sad too. I can’t stop thinking of you, of the idea of ‘not you ever again’… It’s hurting so bad. A physical pain even. I feel my heart aching for real, Mother. I can actually feel my ‘broken heart’… And I’m so angry! I feel like shouting, like a child throwing a tantrum. Why? How? Please, God, how? Why? I want my mother back! Now! Please, God! Please! Give me my mother back!

It’s a very selfish feeling, Mother, I know. But that’s how I’m feeling now. It hasn’t even been three weeks yet, but I wish it had never been!
We’re going to Amsterdam on Wednesday. I havent’ had to heart to tell dad or the girls yet. We’d booked it before everything happened. I’m going to visit the Chapel of the Lady of All Nations, as I do every time I go there, and will ask them if I can offer this Saturday’s mass in intention of you, for one month, I mean, because I won’t be able to go to church on the 13th. I’ll be in work and they don’t have a later mass during the week, I guess.
Mother, some words just don’t seem to be right when put together with your name, or the word ‘Mother’. I carry you death certificate in my bag (your bag) with me. The word ‘death’ right above your name in the document just looks like a terrible practical joke!
No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
I wonder if I write it one million times, when I finish it everything will be back to normal. Of course it won’t. I’m just being ridiculous.
Mother, I love you so much. I can’t believe I will never see you, hold your hand, hug you, argue with you ever again!
Mother, why?
Why? L
I love you, Mother.
P.S. Mother, I’m very worried about dad. You and Maggie died practically ‘under his care’. I can only imagine what kind of guilty thoughts are in his mind and heart… Please, ask Jesus to heal his heart and free him from any guilt he may be feeling, please. Thanks.
I love you forever.
Your oldest daughter,
Dani xxx

Uberlandia, 15th February 2013.

Benca, Mae!

Another day. Another morning without seeing you and your sleepy grumpy face coming out the corridor and saying ‘bom dia’, and heading to the kitchen to give Maggie and Julie their ‘breakfast’… Everybody says how careful you were with them. And that you spoilt them rotten. J  Cheese and fruit, when even you only had Corn Flakes with milk and coffee!

Mother, I need to confess something…. I’m scared to stay in this house. Spooky kind of scared, I mean. I can’t bear to be alone in any room. I’m having problems to sleep. Isa, Xu and I have put 3 mattresses on the computer room floor and have been sleeping there; with the bathroom light on. I spend most nights using my phone, reading stuff that I find on Google about your cancer, trying to find a reason why you died so quickly. I can’t even look towards the door of the bedroom you died in. I’m afraid I’ll see you, Mother. You know something like this happened once, remember that time I went to your bed and slept between you and Father, holding your hand? I feel terrible this time, though. How could I be scared of seeing my own mother? Ridiculous. Besides, I don’t even believe that dead people come back, anyway. And even if they did, knowing me, you would never do that, because you know how silly and scared I am. Still, I’m scared. And I may take one sleeping tablet tonight. I need to sleep, Mother.
Craig and I speak every day. We have this app on the phone, called Tango. I used it with you on the Saturday before you died, Carnaval weekend, remember? It’s something you have a video and voice call. I remember you showed the mobile phone case that I had sent to you – which had finally arrived – and also showed me your new haircut. You looked so cute, Mother. Why didn’t I call again after that? Why? Why?
So, Craig and I speak every day, two or three times a day. I’m missing him badly, Mother. Every time we speak, I cry. Poor him, he can’t do anything from the other side of the phone, and all I wish was for him to cwtch me!
Today we continued with the ‘sorting out’ of the house. I still call it ‘dismantling’ your house. It makes me feel bad. I think that when we lose someone we love so much, we shouldn’t need to do these type of things so soon. Father is looking for a lawyer – for this inventory thingy -, and he’s going to all the shops you used to shop and have a card with to cancel everything. Imagine how bad it is to go to a place and say: ‘Hi… er… my wife has just passed away, I’d like to cancel her account/card etc…’  Nobody should need to do that. Not after at least a couple of months.

Mother, you should see Father… He arrives home sometimes and tells us: ‘Hey, but you’re not working… You’re not working… Come on, we haven’t got much time… Look at this now… one is on the phone (me, to Craig), the other one is on the Internet (Xu) the other ones won’t stop eating (Isa and Luzia, having tea)… Mother, I think he’s in panic here. Isabela and Luzia is leaving tomorrow; I’m leaving on Wednesday and Xu is staying only until next Saturday. I think he’s afraid that we’re going to leave him with all the stuff there is still in the house. Xu and I have started clearing downstairs. Did I tell you that yesterday we sent a little truck away full of the old stuff from the basement? Yep! I remember you used to say to us that we needed to help you sort the basement out. No wonder you never went there, you crafty girl! J  I’d never seen so much junk in my life, Mother! All those old magazines, and rusted things and old paints… Anyway, I guess that was the quickest clearing up ever! The truck guy came really fast, much earlier than we were expecting him, and we filled the truck up in less than one hour!!!! You ‘d have liked that, Mother. I’m sure you would.

So, today, Xu and I carried on sorting out the basement stuff. We went to the “quartinho” and open box after box… Mother, what a treasure we found! You kept all our toys! And old school books and notebooks! I found the first book you gave me, with a little message in it. I’m taking it with me and this will be passed on to my first child, Mother. I’ll write him/her a message below the one you’ve written.

Aunt Zeli came here today, and yesterday, I forgot to tell you. She is devastated, Mother. She just can’t understand and I guess I know now I’ve got a little bit of her in me… She also thinks something is amiss. She’s also been reading, asking around, she’s even spoken to another oncologist and like me, she thinks that they’ve hid from us – or overlooked – how bad your illness was.
Aunt Lizete and Aunt De were here all day today. They are very sad, Mother, and keep trying to do their best to help us. Aunt Lizete even sits at the balcony with Maggie and Julie until they’ve eaten all their food.

Today Aunt Lizete showed me how to wash one of my tops. I paid great attention to her, but I was all the time thinking that something was very wrong with that picture. That I should have learned FROM YOU. Why didn’t I ever ask you? Why have I always been such a smart ass when it comes to my relationship with you??? I don’t get it, Mother. Why have I, your first daughter, turned my back on you so many times, for so long, thinking that your advice was only good enough for yourself? I’m so sorry, Mother. I’m so sorry for being such a bad daughter. I wished I had known you better. It’s way too late now.

Isabela and Luzia are leaving tomorrow. The house will be emptier. It’s so surreal, Mother. I want everything to go back to normal…

I love you forever.



Uberlandia, 14th February, 2013.

Benca, mae.
I’m already “home”… Well, I don’t think I’ll ever call it home again. I’ve just found out that Father is going to move out. Fair enough. The house was already big for just you two and the dogs… Imagine now that he’s alone… It breaks my heart though…

Mother, I met Luzia today. And Simone. I remember I’d met them before (I think it was at Isa’s wedding, wasn’t it?). They came for your funeral with Isa and Xu, I guess. Cica came too, as tio Toninho always says in a very “formal” way, to “represent the family”. I always thought it was so funny, and this time I thought it was beautiful and so sweet! She was here even before Isa and Xu arrived. I kept texting her last night while waiting for my plane, asking about you. How you looked, what was happening at the funeral and stuff… I know it’s a bit weird to text about this kind of things, but I needed to know, mother. I needed to feel at least a bit that I WAS there too. I don’t think I can ever forgive myself for not being there; for not going to see you at Christmas, for not ringing you every single day, when it was just so ridiculously cheap for me to do so; for being so childish and needy and demanding YOU contacted me and YOU showed me how much you loved me and cared for me, when the one who needed unconditional and unlimited love and attention was you! Shame, shame, shame… I’ll never forgive myself. I’ll regret forever the fact that I never kissed you goodbye. And also regret every single time that, for being angry with you, I didn’t kissed you good night before I went to bed. How could I have been so mean?
Mother, I’m still trying to understand what the hell happened here. I keep walking around the house, stop at the door of the bedroom where you died and look and try to see you, laying there, on your own, with your thoughts. Were you conscious, mother? Did you feel anything? Did you feel that you’re dying? Did you try to call someone and the voice just didn’t come out? Were you expecting all this, mother? You know why I ask? Because WE weren’t. I wasn’t. Isa, Xu, Father, your sisters and brother (tia Zeli and tio Lau are really bad, Mother), your friends (tia Romilda just cries all the time, saying that you’ve tricked her, going first), all our family… NOBODY was mother. Apparently, even your doctor was in shock about what happened. Well, she, more than anyone alive, should have known, right?
We are looking like little ants around your house, Mother. Isa, Xu, me, Luzia, Simone, Dad, aunt Lizete is here too. We are “dismantling” your house. Isabela, Luzia and Simone were in the kitchen when I arrived. By the way, can I put some informal complaint here? You weren’t at the airport to meet me, as you always were. Dad and Xu were there. Mauricio and Carol were there too. But not you. Not you, waving your arms energetically as you always did. Not this time. No warm hug and a kiss on my cheek from you, Mother. You know what, I’m starting to get really angry with all this. It just feels like it’s a really bad joke; or a horrible nightmare. I just want to wake up and everything to be back to “normal”. But then I think that this will be the “normal” from now on. You not being here. Well, physically anyway.
So, as I was saying, when I got home, Isa, Luzia and Simone were clearing the kitchen. Dad said there were too many things he’d never use in the new house. Mother, I don’t know how he will cope without you managing the house…
Maggie and Julie weren’t home. They’d gone to the pet shop to be washed. Aunt Lizete said that Maggie had put her head inside the charcoal bag… I can imagine the state she was in, poor thing… haha. All her ladyness and whiteness with a black face… haha

I walked slowly around the house, trying to feel your presence. I couldn’t believe it’d been nearly two years since I was here for the last time!  I went to your bedroom and opened your wardrobe. I touched your clothes and smelled them to get a little bit of you. I sat on the bed and looked around. I saw the books you were reading, “Pillars of the Earth”. Aunt Zeli said you were enjoying reading it. I may read it one day.
I also spent some time in the bedroom where you died, Mother. I couldn’t feel anything but a horrible heartache and horror. A deep sadness to be in the room where you spent your last hours. The bed was empty, I mean, only the frame was left. I asked Dad why. He said they had to throw the mattress away. Apparently you sweated a lot and there was blood too. I don’t understand, Mother. What the hell happened to you??? Did you sweat blood? How come?

Dad said you were really bad on Tuesday. That you woke up screaming with pain and was taken to hospital. Aunt Zeli and Aunt Lizete spent the day with you as well. I don’t know how long you stayed in hospital for, but I know you didn’t want to stay there overnight. Did you know what was happening? I mean, could you feel you were going to die and that’s why you wanted to be at home? You were always so stubborn, Mother! Dad said that the doctor gave you a morphine injection straight in the belly and told him and the Aunt that they’d better pray, because your situation was very serious. Dad said you “fainted” twice going up the steps. I thought: going up the steps??? What the hell…??? When is it ok for a person who’s just had an injection of morphine to get home without an ambulance or paramedics or at least someone to CARRY her upstairs, and not just “help” her upstairs???? Mother, I think the doctors did you wrong. I have this feeling very strong inside of me. You weren’t supposed to have died. Not without us expecting you to. The doctors didn’t even say what stage your cancer was on. I’ve never heard of that before! Something is really amiss here. I don’t think Father is telling everything, but I can’t blame him. He’s already gone through all that, it’s not fair to keep asking him to explain over and over again, and relive that day and night and the following morning when he found you’re gone. I just hate to be spared of all the information, you know? Don’t I have the right to know what happened to my own mother?

Anyway, I went to the back garden next. Your garden, Mother. It’s impossible to deny it: every room in this house screams of you. This house Was you, Mother. And this house is gone. All your plants, and the decorations and photo frames hanging on the wall. And that beautiful table, which you were always so proud of… All family gatherings happening here, and I remember I used to nag you so you wouldn’t spend so much time in the kitchen cooking and stayed with us. I think I’ll still find out what being a mother is all about. It’s about “feeding the world”, isn’t it, even before feeding herself.

Mother, I’ve been here for less than a day and I already miss Craig so much. The thought you’ll never get to know him better, and that you’ll never meet our children nearly kills me. I wish I’d taught him Portuguese, so he could speak with you. Too late now. I’ll have to do that for Father.

Auntie was here all day today. She hugged me and cried and said many times how much she loved you. I have to confess that I tried to keep a little distance at first, not to betray you, I mean. I know how you got annoyed sometimes, so I’m still a bit suspicious when she tells me that she kept you company and that you were “getting on so well”…  You never told me that, and because we know how things work, you’re the one I believe. But I’ve decided to cut her some slack. After all, you’re not here anymore to tell me if it’s true, and due to the circumstances, I’ve decided to just listen to her talking about you. She speaks very highly of you, Mother. Really. She really loved you. Maybe it it was just a phase, and honest, you've never been a very easy person either, but, well,  I guess it doesn’t matter anymore now, does it? At least, you won't need to worry about pleasing people anymore…  =)  Hihi. 

On the other hand, Mother, I understand why you liked Luzia so much. She’s adorable!!! Such a sweet woman! And Simone as well. So cheerful and up to anything, really. I heard that Aline is a bit more temperamental, a bit on the angry side, but is also a good person. But Luzia… she’s become special to me from day one. She loved you, Mother. She really did. And it’s so good to hear from people who loved you. I feel ashamed again. I should be the one pouring compliments over you all the time. Now that you died, I need to hear how lovely and lively and funny you were. Why didn’t I get much of it??? It’s probably because I didn’t give you much chance, did I? I wasn’t a very good daughter most of the time, Mother. I know that. And it kills me inside…

But I love you, Mother. And I always will.
Your oldest daughter,
Daniela. <3


Somewhere above the clouds, 13th-14th February 2013.

Benca, mae!

I’m already on the plane to Sao Paulo. We had a little stop and change in Madrid, where I had to wait a while. Your body is already buried, and I know you’re rested and well now, but this pain just won’t go. And I think it will stay here in my heart forever. I’ll explain to you what it feels like (well, you must know, because you lost your mother as well, just at a much older age). It feels exactly as if you had gone to sleep one night, and you woke up the next day and somebody has cut your right arm out. You didn’t see them doing it, you didn’t feel it then, you didn’t let them do it, but it’s gone. Your right arm is just gone!
By the time I got to Heathrow, Mother, I had such a terrible headache! I think it’s because I was trying to hold my tears, and I had this knot in my throat, and my chest felt super tight. I cried a few times, but I just couldn’t be crying all the time in front of everyone, could I? What would they think? So, I went to Boots and bought some headache tablets. I also bought sleeping tablets. Craig and I always take them when we go to Brazil. Don’t worry; it’s just a one off thing. It’s because the flight is so long, that we get a bit bored and so tired! So, we wait for dinner to come – obviously! – and then we take one tablet each. It’s enough for at least 4-5 hours’ sleep. I was going to tell you to do the same when you come, but you’re not coming now, are you? L
Well, you know one thing I’ve just noticed? The seat next to me on the two planes I’ve taken came empty. Nobody sitting next to me, mother. It’s like you’re going on this trip with me. To comfort me, maybe; or maybe to see what’s like to be on a long-haul flight. I slept quite well – after the sleeping tablet, of course. I love the IBERIA planes. There’s so much space between seats! Craig would also love it! I miss him, by the way. I miss him a lot. I really don’t like travelling without him, although this time I think it will be better. I don’t want to share Father and the girls with anyone else. Danilo is not there either. It will be just us. Minus you. Oh, dear…

The pilot has just said we’re flying over Salvador now. It’s sunrise time. Mother, if the place you are is anything like what I’m seeing now, you might be having a great time! I can already feel the warmth of this country. The sun is slowly coming up and the mixture of colours reaching the fluffy clouds is amazing to look at! It feels like a cotton candy field, where everything is orange and yellow. This place screams “happy”. Too bad my heart feels exactly the opposite. I want you back, mother. Where’s life’s ‘rewind’ button? Is there a ‘delete’ key somewhere?

They are bringing breakfast now, Mother. I’ve got to go, but I’m sure you’ll see what I eat. J
Love you so much!

Swansea, 13th February 2013.


Benca, mae*!

I’ve just got a phone call from Brazil. I imagine you know what it is about, but I’ll write the very short conversation here anyway…

(Viber ringing)
Dani: Wow! That’s early… (it’s 8:06 am in Swansea, 6:06 am in Brazil.)
Dani: Oi, fufu (Isabela)! How you doing?
Isa: Oi, Dani. (deep, serious voice) Dani, dad has just phoned…

Now, here’s me thinking that one of dad’s (very old) sisters has died.

Dani: Ok… What’s happened?
Isa: Dani, mum has passed away.
Dani: What? (Shock. Sobs. Heartache.)
Isa: Dani, Dani, stay calm.
Dani: Bel, I need to phone Craig. I’ll call you later.

Sobs. Breathlessness. I can’t feel the floor under my feet.

Mother, I was alone in the school when I heard the news. I had arrived, turned on the lights, boiled the kettle, made myself a coffee, filled up my bottle with water and had just sat at my desk.

I couldn’t believe it – I still can’t. It just didn’t seem real.

I phoned Craig straight away. He was in work. He couldn’t believe it either, Mother. He said:
‘I’m going home now. Catch the first train back. I’ll meet you at home. I’ll book your flights.’

Mother, I have to say, he’s very good in a crisis. Very proactive, if you know what I mean.

He had everything ready when I got home. My bus to London and flights to Brazil booked. My passport ready next to my suitcase, which I managed to pack in less than 10 minutes!
I helped him book my flight from Sao Paulo to Uberlandia, had a shower and we left for the bus station.
I won’t be there in time to see you, Mother. I won’t be there in time to kiss you goodbye. L And it hurts.
Mother, why? Why did you have to go so fast?
I love you.

 * In Portuguese, Your blessing, Mother.