As I said in the above-mentioned blog post, that was still better than many of the possible other ways to die. But I didn't know for sure.
As she'd died outdoors, a post-mortem was on the cards no matter what, and when I went to the Procurator Fiscal's in Edinburgh a few days after her death, in mid October, they told me the full results would be available in two to three weeks. What I didn't appreciate, until I phoned them last week to find out what was taking so long, was that the Fiscal doesn't randomly post raw post-mortem results to grieving families; they expect the families to arrange for their GP to act as a go-between, so the GP can translate very technical medical speak into something that a layman can understand.
A few phone calls later, I had an appointment with my GP for this Monday afternoon. And it was good news: she almost certainly knew nothing at all of what happened to her.
She fell (whether a trip or a faint, we can't possibly ever know), and she almost immediately suffered two major head wounds, with accompanying brain hemorrhaging, as well as a broken collar bone. My GP was pretty damn confident that you don't regain consciousness from injuries such as that. She rolled a fair bit, and had a number of other incidental injuries - we knew that, she was found a fair distance from her rucksack - but the important thing is that when she fell, she fell hard.
I mean, you don't break your collarbone from a glancing blow, even if you're 70. You don't suffer a minor tear in your goddamn aorta if you've just pulled a muscle. (Even a minor tear will nonetheless carry on being a problem, and eventually require major invasive surgery - another reason to be glad that the fall killed her, given that Margaret had clearly refused any kind of medical intervention short of pain relief, and did not want to be in and out of hospital.)
I am so relieved. (And it made it so much easier to phone around everyone telling them the news.) I had feared that she'd fallen and then lain there, in pain and confusion, before blacking out. Hell, I'd feared that she'd gone out the day before and only been found on the morning after. Now, Science tells us that she in all probability went out walking on that Wednesday morning at about 8am or 9am, fell, and was found uneventfully dead at 10:20am. I mean, yes, hypothermia and exposure were what did her in eventually, but she was almost certainly blithely unaware of all of that. From her perspective, she fell, she whacked her head, and that was it.
What a way to go. Especially for someone like her, who, at her age, had no significant remaining ambitions, and knew that the people she cared for - particularly Cleodhna and I - were set, established, and didn't need any major attention from her.
A number of her friends mentioned that she wasn't eating, and perhaps she feared that the bowel cancer she'd had five years ago was on its way back. Well, if it was on the return, there was nothing obvious to be seen - not that, of course, there would have been, if the cancer was returning via very small secondaries. (And the post-mortem doctor had no reason to look particularly attentively for cancer.)
But, you know what? That doesn't matter. What matters is that Margaret lived a full life, a complete life, and when her end came, it was swift, resolute and no-nonsense, at a time that she would have appreciated. She didn't suffer, and us survivors didn't suffer; one moment she was alive, and then she was dead. Let us all hope to go that way.