Today is the 20th of January. For some today is a birthday, for others a wedding anniversary, for some its a day of rest. Perhaps its family roast day, a day for the garden, or just another day which will come and go without much notice. For some today is nothing. For me today is 3 days before my birthday. And 7 years since my mum died. 7 Years. Apparently the full mourning process takes 7 years. So thats today. Its done. Psychologically, Im supposed to be over it.
I can attest that I dont accidentally go to call her anymore, and that the daily and weekly routines are engrained enough now not to include her. I can also say with certainty that I have stopped crying when I see pictures and I have stopped dreaming about her death being a big mistake and waking up excited, only to find that actually, its very real. I dont remember her smell anymore. I dont remember exactly how she had her tea, but Im pretty sure it was sweet. I dont mourn Christmas so much anymore nor do I avoid the cards and letters she gave me incase of certain meltdown. I dont feel guilty anymore about not being Catholic or going to church. I can say that I function normally once more but that I needed each and every day of the 7 years to get here. Regardless of this almighty feat, there are a few things I do still do and probably (hopefully) will always do.
I will always hear her voice sing as she opened the door for me “my sunshine!”. I will always smile at the laughs we had over lamb roast, watermelon and midnight pancakes. Ill always remember telling her the joke from Good Will Hunting as I spilled water from my mouth and being shocked and so glad that she could let go and really laugh instead of giving me a ‘look’. I will always wonder what wouldve happened if I had told her I DID want kids instead of convincing her I didnt. Might she have stayed? Ill always want to tell her how well Im doing at uni and for her to brag while I pretended to hate it. Ill always mentally call her first and tell her anything great. Ill always wish that it was still her recounting MY childhood stories instead of whoevers I happen to be hearing at the time. I will always want and try to recreate her passionate and strong words in my ear when Im down and out to remind me how much I am loved and how much she believes in me. and of course how she would kill anyone who dare hurt me. That was always comforting and a little funny given how tiny she was. Shit she was scary though – Ill ALWAYS remember that. Ill always wish we were closer when I was a teenager. Ill always keep her photo close to me. Ill always want one more kiss, one more hug, one more day…year.. decade… lifetime. Minute. Second. Breath.
Ill always wish I was stronger for her – always. Ill always have regrets. Ill always be sorry – sorry for what I didnt do more that what I did. Im sorry mum for not telling you I would care for you. Im sorry I didnt tell you to wait. Im sorry I didnt buy you flowers or make you more food when you were in hospital. Im sorry I found the drive to Flinders sooo long. Im sorry I didnt tell the nurse to be quiet when she was rude to you and Im sorry I didnt stand up for you more and fight for you when your ‘friends’ were assholes. Im sorry I didnt bring you back a present when I went on holidays in year 9. Im sorry I didnt know what I was seeing when I saw your legs the night before you died and to tell the nurse. Im sure this would have saved you. Im sorry I had no concept that you might actually die and that I didnt pray for you. Im sorry I didnt let your mum come in and hold you as you passed away. I wanted you for myself but you probably want your mum – I would want you. Im sorry I was hostile. Im sorry I was cold. Im sorry you felt like you couldnt come home and be cared for. Im sorry I didnt respond when you said you werent coping with the death of your brother. I thought you were steel. Indestructible. Im sorry mum for being less than you. For not being the woman you were. The mother you were and still are in my heart. Im sorry you had to die to allow me to become aware and caring and a fragment of what you were. I will always look at my girl and wish with each and every bone and cell in my body that you could touch her, see her, love her, the way you loved me. The way you had always prayed you could and waited so patiently for. Im sorry for so many things.
I dont believe that the mourning process is ever over when you truly love someone. Perhaps its made worse by the fact that each time I look at my girl I know what she is missing. The love that would have enveloped her like noone elses can. Not even mine. Although as I walk down the Stirling lanes amidst beautiful gardens, trees and flowers I look out at them and will her to see through my eyes at the beauty she would have adored, I still wish she could see it. Even though people tell me ‘she is with you’, she isnt. Even though each white butterfly that dances with me and plays with Faith tells me she visits, I still want her in the flesh – smoking and drinking coffee and laughing till she cries, mascara running down her face. I want her to light up the room like she always, always did. As I prepare to be an Aunty in July its here again – the wishing, the wanting the yearning for my brother to have that love be present in the most amazing time of his life. It feels fresh and raw again – but old and worn at the same time. Same tears, same pain. same same same. again and again.
7 years will come and go. Sunday will become Monday. My birthday will be and Ill be older and with the additional year it will become less and less unusual that my mum isnt here to those I meet. As my girl grows Ill become accustomed to the feelings that dwell at Christmas and special occasions. Ill be the best Aunty I can be and do what I can to fill a void. Like a feather in the Grand Canyon, but a feather none the less. I wont think of mum every day, Ill let more of her things go each year until I have just a couple left for Faith. I’ll become the mother at Christmas time for my girl instead of hanging out to see mine. Ill make the roast and midnight pancakes. Ill start my own traditions and sing Faith my own songs. Ill do my best to make up for my regrets each day but Ill live with the pain of them forever because I need to. I really do.
But mum, Ill always mourn you. Sometimes with a smile, tonight with tears. Sometimes Ill talk of you and sometimes Ill just quietly remember. But please know, wherever you are, that 7 years is just 7 years. Our hearts are linked forever and one day Ill recognize you again and we will have another go. Until then, what can I say? I miss you so much. I love you mum.
I recently read this from “Ram Daas: Fierce Grace” written to parents after the death of their daughter, on a friends FB page. I adore it and when Im feeling strong this is what I choose to read. Today, I have adapted the names to be for us…
Dear Aaron and Tiffany, Craig and Kerry, and all who loved her,
Gilda finished her work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. Is anyone strong enough to stay conscious through such teaching as you are receiving? Probably very few. And even they would only have a whisper of equanimity and
peace amidst the screaming trumpets of their rage, grief, horror and desolation.
I can’t assuage your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is Gilda’s legacy to you. Not that she or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees, and to love
as God loves.
Now is the time to let your grief find expression. No false strength. Now is the time to sit quietly and speak to your mother, and thank her for being with you these few years, and encourage her to go on with whatever her work is, knowing that you will grow in compassion and wisdom from this experience.
In my heart, I know that you and she will meet again and again, and recognize the many ways in which you have known each other. And when you meet you will know, in a flash, what now it is not given to you to know: Why this had to be the way it was.
Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts– if we can keep them open to God – will find their own intuitive way. Rachel came through you to do her work on earth, which includes her manner of death. Now her soul is free, and the love that you can share with her is
invulnerable to the winds of changing time and space. In that deep love, include me.