A thousand days ago, my Mum breathed her last and left my world in turmoil. I felt cheated. She had been in hospital barely forty eight hours and with a blink of an eye, she was gone.
I’ll tell you why I felt cheated. I’ve admitted her into hospital many times. I’ve signed a Do Not Resuscitate form twice. Both times, she fought and got through the worst. So, when she went in to hospital this last time, I was very confident she would be home in no time but that didn’t happen. She went away.
I’ve spent at least two years of this motherless journey asking myself what I could have done differently. I’ve mourned her to a point where people probably thought I’m over-doing it. I didn’t care what anyone thought. This is my grief, my loss, my way of dealing with it. If people had a problem with it or felt uncomfortable, I didn’t bother with it.
I have shared my memories, my laughter, my grief, my emptiness with abandon. I’ve shed tears, I’ve laughed at some of the memories then promptly burst into tears, smiled, and explored all sorts of emotions.
I also was open to allowing other people to celebrate her and grieve her. I wanted to guard jealously her memories. We are all related to people in some way or another. It could be a friendship, a relationship by birth or marriage, it could be acquaintances, anything. It wasn’t just my siblings or me who had a relationship with our mother. In the past one thousand days, my favourite moments have been of people sharing her memories with me. It felt wonderful to know how much Mum was loved by so many people, thus confirming that she wasn’t just loving to us. It’s who she was.
A lot has happened, a lot has changed. Relationships have altered, and it’s all good. I feel I’m closer to my Mum’s sisters more than ever before. They keep in touch, they call, they message. It’s nothing over the top, but it’s so lovely to hear from them every now and then.
Mum lived the furthest away from all her siblings. I sometimes feel we missed out on being around our grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins while growing up, but whenever we met, that love was always concentrated. It was always quality over quantity.
I know all her siblings must miss her. It’s touching when my cousins reach out and send pictures of mum with them, or some anecdote they’ll want to share. I’ll absorb whatever they’re saying and love every word. I love how everyone has such beautiful memories of her, and how they share them.
It’s been one thousand days. I never thought I’d get this far. I’ve always been known as the strongest one in our family. This broke me in a way I never thought I’d get out of.
I remember walking behind a lady in a supermarket as she did her shopping just because she was wearing Mum’s perfume. It took a lot of strength to not start bawling in the aisles. She had different favourite scents. She loved wearing perfume. I sometimes spray one of her favourite perfumes on my wrist just so that I can feel her around me. I can still smell her ‘mummy scent’ on the shawls and stoles I have. I used to be scared to wear them in case the smell got lost, but that scent was going to go away anyway, so I started embracing myself in her shawls just so that I could make the most of it.
Things may remind me of my Mum but no one can take away from me what I have in my heart or mind. Her words to me, her love, her laughter… No one can take that away from me, and that is why I was eventually able to give her clothes away to charity, to someone who needed it more than I do. I was able to let go of a lot more than I thought I could.
Of course, I will miss my mother for the rest of my life.
Of course, I’ll cry when the emptiness hits me suddenly.
Of course, I’ll think of her, celebrate her, feel her, look for signs until the day I die, knowing that I was very lucky and privileged to call this awesome woman my mother.
I’m so glad I got to tell her how much I love her and appreciate her. All the support she gave me when I struggled through life, all the tears she shed because she couldn’t see me in any pain, the fact that before she went away, she got to see for herself that I was happy and getting on with life.
Thank you so much for allowing me to mourn her, to celebrate her, to miss her. Thank you so much for being there for me, for reaching out, for letting me be.
My Mum taught me everything except how to live without her.
I’m trying. It’s not easy, but I’m trying.