Mother’s Day is always a bittersweet occasion for me, a motherless child. This year, I feel blessed to have both of my children with me on Mother’s Day and it means everything to me.
I read a very personal article today by a woman called Tanya and it was about what losing a mum really feels like. It’s the type of blog post I have wanted to write myself but a) I didn’t want to depress everyone, especially with Mother’s Day approaching and b) Tanya is a lot more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. But equally, I also feel the need to at least acknowledge that I did have a Mum once, especially at this time of year.
One of the lines in Tanya’s article jumped out at me and made me cry. She talks about saying goodbye to her Mum who is in a hospice:
“Left alone in the room for the first time all day, you half climb on the bed, crying freely, pawing at the panting body. Something in you registers that this is the first body you ever climbed all over.”
And then it struck me. As morbid as it sounds (and it is kinda morbid), but I know just how my boys are going to feel when I pass because I’ve gone through it already. It’s heartbreaking to know what pain they’re going to go through and I won’t be there to soothe them, to comfort them. To love them. To guide them through it like I’ve tried to guide them with every other situation in their lives.
Dexter is still young enough to come into bed with me and cuddle in the crook of my left arm. He’ll often absent-mindedly rest the side of his foot on mine just so that he has some physical contact with me – to subconsciously remind himself that I’m still there. Even Ben, at 20, isn’t too old for the occasional cuddle. And the funny thing is, I vividly remember doing the same with my Mum, and we’re talking 35 years ago. She used to sit at the end of one sofa with her legs tucked under her, as she knitted, read and watched TV at the same time, and I would pour myself into the gap made by her legs, nestling myself in there knowing that it was the warmest, safest place I could be. That memory is etched on my mind forever.
I wonder what my kids will remember about me?
Mum, Aunt Mary and Nan
After Mum died, and it was a sudden death, we were asked if we wanted to see her at the funeral home. As in actually ‘see’ her. I wasn’t strong enough or brave enough, or maybe I had enough clarity to realise I would always want to remember her as she was, but I am so grateful for the time I had with her in that small room … because it was just the two of us again. It was my opportunity to say goodbye and I remember hugging her coffin as if I was hugging her body. I don’t think I’ve ever cried as hard as I did in that moment.
Losing your mum changes you in every possible way you can think of. It’s like learning to live without a limb. An arm or a leg. You go through the motions of living, but you’re not really in the real world … you are living in limbo, in some parallel universe where only you live because only you know what this pain is like. You become isolated from reality and you also become someone totally and utterly different. Your relationships change. Families either grow together or fall apart after such a loss and I don’t think my family knew what to do once she’d gone. She was the matriarch, the linchpin, the everything to us and without her I think we just felt like we were drifting. Thankfully, we have found each other again and I like to think that would make Mum happy.
I want to publish this post before Mother’s Day because if you are still lucky enough to have your Mum around I wouldn’t want this blog post to taint such a lovely day, but I felt like my head would explode if I didn’t put my thoughts down in my little corner of the internet. I don’t want Sunday to be spoilt by me being upset about something I can’t do anything about. I miss Mum with every fibre of my being – being a mother myself just intensifies the loss I feel.
Am I over her death? Yes and no. I think it took me about eight years to truly grieve for her but a lot of that was because I was having to deal with a crappy relationship too which didn’t free me up to mourn properly – something else to resent him for. But I can now think about her without crying (although invariably I do), and I can talk about her to my boys and laugh about the things she used to do and tell them how much she loved them. Because oh my God, she really really adored her grandchildren.
I hate that she died alone, but I’m grateful (if you can be at all grateful in situations like that) that she went quickly. And I like to think that even though we weren’t there, she felt surrounded by us … by our love, at that time.
The funny thing is, the older I get, the more I look like her and I freak myself out sometimes when I look in the mirror because it’s like looking at her! I have the ‘Turner eyes’ and I see the same colour blonde hair trying to creep through, before I quickly dye it. Some of the things I say to my boys, I can hear her saying in exactly the same way and it just reminds me that although I feel a tremendous sense of loss, I also still feel her around me.
So she’s not completely gone. Not really. No-one is ever completely gone.
Thanks for reading … sending lots of love in particular to those who may struggle with Sunday. You’re not alone.