September 14th saw the first anniversary of my beloved mum’s passing. I approached this date with great trepidation, not really knowing what to expect. I know that my feelings of grief were most definitely heightened and I was feeling quite sad.
For those readers who are not aware, I lost my mum very quickly to lung cancer in 2017. My first blog post tells the story.
As well as feeling sad I was also feeling scared. I had been existing in a fog where my mum’s absence was only measured in weeks, then months, not years. They say time heals all wounds but I don’t necessarily agree with that sentiment. As time continues, you learn to live without your loved one in your life and learn how to face new situations without them, but I honestly believe as time goes on, I miss my mum more and more because it has been longer since I have seen her. I’m so scared of the day when I can say that my mum passed away 10 years ago or 20 years ago. The more recent her passing, the closer I felt to her because there is less time between that last hug, the last laugh and the last ‘I love you’.
The first anniversary meant we had encountered each important occasion without my mum. Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Mothers Day. Everybody says that the first of each occasion is the worst but only time will tell.
I think we put too much expectation on ourselves when such occasions arise. When I was grieving for my son William, as an important date would approach, I would find that I would feel worse in the lead up to the said date or maybe even afterwards, but I was usually okay on the given day. My mum’s anniversary was similar.
My mum passed away on my brother’s birthday and I was very aware that it was going to be such a difficult day for him. The pressure to be happy and celebrate on your birthday (especially when you have kids who are excited about giving you gifts and a cake) and the overwhelming sadness he would be feeling, would surely make it one of his crappest days. Although he isn’t big on celebrating his own birthday, you only get one day a year and I still wanted it to be special for him.
Since we both started families, we no longer buy presents for each other, just for each other’s kids but for this birthday I wanted to do something special to try and brighten his day. I put my thinking cap on and racked my brain, I find men hard to buy for at the best of times let alone for an occasion such as this.
Thank god for Instagram, I just happened to be scrolling through one night when I saw an advertisement for the Star Registry. You could purchase a star with its own coordinates and details etc and name it and give it to someone as a gift. I thought it might be a bit of gimmick but I loved the sentiment and the thought behind it. Apparently, the name of the star is entered into a database somewhere and it’s all legitimate, so I bought a star and named it after my mum and organised to have the certificate sent to my brother (which didn’t reach him on time but that’s another story!!). Luckily I was still able to email him a copy of the certificate and he appreciated the sentiment.
The old saying ‘if you want to make god laugh then tell him your plans’ rang very true in this instance. I was planning to have a quiet day at home and take flowers to the cemetery but life threw a horrible curve ball at one of my lovely friends. Out of respect for the family and in the interest of her privacy, I’ll be quite vague with details only to say that she lost her beloved sister earlier in the week. Her sister was a beautiful young woman with so much to live for, with a beautiful and loving family, but was taken far too soon. As to be expected, my friend, her family and friends were all devastated by this very sad passing.
Her funeral was organised for the 14th September and it was without question that I would attend. This friend of mine had flown from interstate to attend my mum’s funeral and support me and it was without question that I was going to do the same for her. It was such a beautiful funeral, with a lot of people in attendance. Towards the end of the service, there was a poem read out, I couldn’t tell you the name of it, I couldn’t even quote you a sentence or a phrase, but it was written from the position of a mother who was leaving her children behind and was absolutely beautiful. My husband and I both openly sobbed as this was read aloud, he too has lost his mum. I sobbed for my mum, for my husband’s mum, for the teenage boys who had lost their beautiful mother, for my friend who had lost her sister who was also her best friend and was like a second mother to her growing up and for everyone else in the world who was experiencing gut wrenching grief.
After hearing this poem, it was then I knew that everything was going to be alright. Without a doubt there are going to be many tough times, tears cried in the shower so the kids don’t know mummy is sad again, the longing to say the simple words ‘hi mum’ as I always would always begin our daily phone calls or conversations. Sadness in watching my kids growing up and knowing that she was missing out on seeing and enjoying them. So many things could make me sad but so many things could make me happy also. I was blessed to have 39 years with such a loving mum who always put us kids and then grandkids before herself and I know without a doubt that she loved us all with every beat of her heart.
It also dawned on me that it had now been a year since I had contacted quite a few of my friends. I was living in a bubble, suffering from anxiety and depression and obviously grief but the world keeps turning (who would have thought?) and I still had a life to lead and four kids to look after. Days when the older kids were at school and the younger two were at child care, I just wanted to stay home by myself. I didn’t even really want to talk to anyone. It was taking every ounce of me just to get through each day that I was absolutely mentally and physically exhausted and needed to recharge my batteries when the opportunity arose, so I could make it through the next day and the next day. In the beginning I couldn’t think more than a day ahead at a time because otherwise the gravity of the situation was too overwhelming.
The purpose of this poem as mentioned above, was to convey a Mother’s love to their offspring, regardless of their age, location, relationship etc or at least that was my perception of it. The love you have for your children is so hard to put into words but the author of this poem did it so poignantly & beautifully and although I know life is never going to be the same, I have had, and still continue to have that unconditional, inexplicable, priceless love from my mum that even death cannot erase.