I wrote this blog post a month ago. I’ve sat on it for that long because I wondered whether I just needed to write it as a form of catharsis, and then I could file this draft alongside other such ‘gems’ as ‘My Favourite Knickers’ and ‘7 Things to do With a Potato.’ Ahem. But as Mother’s Day approaches each year, I always find myself drawn to write about Mum and I feel the need to share my thoughts about her. It feels so important to me to keep her memory alive, and I hope you understand. I’ve also published it today so I don’t bum you out on Sunday – I’m thoughtful like that.
On Mother’s Day of all days, I want my thoughts to be consumed about the woman who brought me into this world, even if she isn’t in it anymore, and although I find myself writing about Mum less now, she consumes my thoughts more as I get older. I know there are many of you reading this who, like me, have lost the greatest love of their lives and to pretend it never happened, or to go about your business like everything’s OK, well, that just wouldn’t be real life would it?
I’ve been without Mum for 12 Mother’s Days now. I counted. I tried using my fingers, remembering the date of her death (three days after my son’s first birthday), and worked out when Mother’s Day fell that year. I had to write it down in the end to make sure I got it right. And of course, it makes me sad, but I didn’t cry as I ran out of fingers and resorted to pen and paper. It was all rather perfunctory really. Twelve. Twelve Mother’s Days without Mum.
But it’s the other times that get to me. That probably get to you. When I see a certain curl of a woman’s hair that reminds me of how long Mum would spend on her hair every single day. She used a Braun curling brush, the ones where you had to put a blue gas cartridge in the end. Do you remember them? I haven’t thought about those for over 15 years. Or when Eva Cassidy comes on the radio (or Shania Twain – I think they were the only two tapes Mum ever had in her car.) Or when I hear my nieces laugh. Or when my boys look at me in a certain way and I see their Nan in their eyes. Or when I sneeze or laugh. I see and hear her more now she’s not here than when she was. I’m not even sure how that’s possible.
Or, more often these days, I see her when I look in the mirror. It seems there’s no escaping the woman! But I wouldn’t want to, it’s comforting, it’s not morbid. It’s like she is still here, and I guess that’s just a sign of how much she was loved, and how much she loved us. That I can still feel her presence so deeply, even when she’s not physically in this world.
Twelve years on and my grief can be as violent now as it was back then. I am overtaken by overwhelming feelings of loss, of constant jealousy of friends and strangers who still have their mothers. Of sadness we no longer have her in our lives, but joyfulness we had her at all. Thankfully the negative feelings pass as quickly as they come. When things happen in my life, good or bad, she is still the person I most want to talk to. What would she think? What would she say? Would she think online dating was a good thing? (No, I don’t think she would.) Would she be proud of me and my boys (most definitely.)
It would feel disrespectful not to write about Mum on the most motherly of days so I hope you don’t mind. And if you’re at the beginning of your own grieving process, there’s nothing I can say to you that will make it any easier, I know that, or make any difference. But I’m so sorry for the journey you’re about to go on. Time doesn’t heal anything really, but it does help you cope better as you learn to live a completely new life without her, and you will. Eventually. You’ll find yourself able to go about your life again, but you will be fundamentally different. Everything will look and feel different, you will be different, but you will cope. Because you will have to. And if you find yourself not coping, try your best to reach out and tell someone. I struggled with my grief for so many years because I could only deal with one shitty situation at a time, and my relationship at the time was all-consuming. Grief got put on the back burner for seven years, and it was only then that I was able to process it at all. And I then had to re-live it all again – but if you’re struggling, tell someone.
My thoughts these days turn towards the time when my children will have to go through all of the above, although hopefully not for a very long time, because I know what they’re going to have to go through. The day will come one day and I can only hope that even though they’ll feel my pain as deeply as I feel it now, they’ll understand it’s for the same reason … it’s because I love them so completely and deeply, and that’s why it hurts so much. And I hope that one day, in the midst of their grief, they’re able to be kind to themselves and be thankful that someone loved them as much as I did. I hope they remember the times I sat on the touchline watching them play sport through chattering, gritted teeth, cheering them on. Or when we splashed about in swimming pools on the few holidays we were able to take together. Or when I read to them in bed as they drifted off to sleep. Or a myriad of other things they’ll remember me for. I hope they don’t judge me too harshly for the mistakes I made though because everything we do as mothers, right or wrong, is only done through love isn’t it?
I don’t always cope with Mother’s Day very well, especially now I don’t have both of my children with me, but I try not to mope around the house too much. I like to honour Mum’s memory by being a good person and by looking after myself, so I’ll buy her some flowers, and myself some too. I’ve just found out that my eldest will be with me this Mother’s Day so we’ll eat good food together, catch up on all the gossip, and I’ll create memories that hopefully he’ll remember when he’s in his 40’s. Being single means that often Mother’s Day is a bit of a non-event, so I’m sure it’ll pass without too much of a fuss. I will, no doubt, dream about Mum that night and wake up with that fleetingly bittersweet moment where I remember that although she’s alive in my dreams, she isn’t in reality, and I will remember that grief all over again. But it would be worth it for that momentary belief I still have her.
Because even though she’s not here, she is always with me.