August 21st. 2.16am.
It’s been 5 years for me now being parent-less. 5 years today since my mum passed away from cancer. The day my world was well and truly crushed and quite literally fell apart for….years.
Losing a mum is literally like something is physically ripped from you. The person who birthed you, who nursed you, who looked after you and nurtured you to become the person that you are today.
I have had a few people reach out to me for help and guidance when they are losing or have lost their mum….and the only advice I can give is strap in and brace yourself.
The fallout from my mum’s death was violent, gut-wrenching and on a physical level that I had never experienced from death before. I had lost my father to cancer too, around 8 years previous, but our relationship was somewhat difficult, and I went through all the emotions of death, but not on scale like it was losing my mum.
When we got the news from the hospice it was time to come and spend time with mum, I dropped everything and flew home (Jersey). I had made this trip SO many times over the 4 years she had terminal cancer, a lot of times she would even be in hospice and then all of a sudden pick up and be home again for another few months. It was exhausting and heart wrenching and it was even worse knowing this would be the last time.
How do you prepare yourself for seeing someone die? What happens? Was she in pain? Why was she gasping for breath, it sounded like she was drowning. I was terrified and found myself googling the signs of death amongst other pretty odd things : HOW do you prepare?
I had seen her on and off over the year so the cancer weight loss wasn’t an utter shock, but seeing her in a bed, 4 stone and emaciated is a hard memory to shake. When I first got back we had chats, she could communicate and I remember her last words she whispered.
I initially didn’t go outside for 8 days. 8 days. I didn’t want to leave her side in case she needed me. I won’t go into details, ; it’s very much too grim, and still too raw, but it was around 3 weeks of decline… with the last week of her not speaking and unconscious. I wish it had been quicker, I wish I could have said more, but I am glad I was there with her at the time of her death.
I watched her die for 3 weeks yet I saw her live for 33 years. A privilege. I had to deal with things that no 33 year old should have to. I was in charge of everything. Telling her friends, paying her last phone bill, picking up her bag of clothes from the hospice, replying to her e-mails and choosing the flowers that would sit on the coffin. It completely broke me and I felt so helpless and alone.
We shared so much. We had such a special mum-daughter bond. We argued, we bickered, we laughed, no matter what happened I KNEW I could always call on her for help whether it be me feeling ill, wanting to come home, needing some cash or crying over a boy. I learnt so much from her, and wish we had had the time to learn more, but I’m glad we had the relationship we had and I really hope me and Margot will have the same.
I got married 2 months later and it was hard to get through. She didn’t see me get married, she wasn’t there for when we bought our first house and she never got to meet my baby, her granddaughter, and all of this gives me such a heavy heart.
The grief hits me still today and in can come in waves and floods, sometimes at very unexpected times. I remember once I was driving back from a facial in Essex just a few years ago and I had to pull over in the car into this lay-by at the side of the lane, so I could sob and bawl into my hands. Ugly wailing and uncontrollable.
Little triggers I never knew existed……smelling Chanel no 5, looking into the mirror and seeing her, spotting something on a restaurant menu she would have loved, going to a town we once visited….hidden memories that pop up when you least expect it.
Just today I was shopping in Tesco and saw a pregnant girl shopping for baby things with her mum and it made me sad. I see elderly women and wonder why my mum never made it to be that age. She had so much more life and it just seems so unfair and wrong.
I try to turn the anniversary of her death into something positive : remembering all her amazing stories (she put my somewhat dull life to shame….really!), the travels she went one, her times of hardship and she overcame them, I remember her sense of humour and the laughs we had, her beliefs, her morals and the exciting life she had.
When I moved house recently, I went through a lot of her stuff that I have kept, and the thousands of photos I have from her many adventures. She travelled the world and went to places I can only dream of. Many of these places are hand-written on the back of the photos and I endeavour to follow quite literally in her footsteps some-day…and share the same experiences and adventures.
I have never written about my mum in-depth before, I find it very difficult to translate my feelings about it, but this anniversary feels a little bit tougher and a bit more harder to stay positive and I think that’s because I am now a mum myself.
I wish so much I could thank her because now I understand it.