My eldest said to me yesterday, “have you spoken to Nanny lately?” and for a split second, I had to stop and think. That split second of doubt is still there after all this time. But he had meant, had I gone to her grave. “No love, not for a while,” I replied. We continued our trip to Blockbuster because that’s what you have to do – carry on as normal.
I thought long and hard before I began writing this particular blog. Not because I’m afraid to share – I think you know by now I’m far from that – but because it is a topic that is sensitive, hard to talk about and very personal. It’s also a topic that not only other people have always written about, and will continue to do so, but that I personally have written a lot about in my cathartic journey of coping with being one of the ‘bereaved’. But I just felt the need to write today, and so I did.
My mum died five years ago. She was sixty, under hospital care for a heart condition and about to undergo a procedure that would allow her to continue living for many more years. She had a massive heart attack as they prepped her.
I am now able to write matter-of-factly about what happened but there is no denying the sheer devastation I felt, and still feel, at losing her. Not a day goes by whereby I don’t think about her. Sometimes that makes me cry, sometimes it makes me laugh.
Writing became my personal counsellor. My partner was not able to truly understand what I was going through because he’s fortunate enough to still have his parents, but he did the very best he could. Writing became the only way I could say the things I really felt, even if some days, I wasn’t totally sure what that was.
A personal diary aside, everything I wrote creatively for my degree contained an element of Mum. Characters I created had her Sid James-esque laugh, her highlighted hair, her blue/grey eyes, even her musky perfume and cigarette smell. I found myself writing about the apple pie with pink icing that she used to make for my birthday parties, the way she knitted most of our clothes (and how much I hated most of them). How she could never sleep until she knew I was home safely.
One day, things changed. I wrote a story about a boy with Tourette’s Syndrome. It had absolutely nothing to do with my Mum, my childhood or my sadness. I was delighted.
I don’t believe anyone ever totally recovers from such a loss but I know I’m a stronger person for going through that loss and coming out the other side in one piece.
I can write freely about anything I like now, I don’t always wake with that split second, stomach churning, feeling of having to ask myself if she’s still alive. I’ve accepted she’s not but know I will never forget her.
Everyone copes differently with loss. Feel free to share anything you feel like sharing. I have a little understanding of what it’s like. Talking helps, but sometimes, so does writing.