My mum died. My mum died almost 11 years ago, and sometimes I still expect her voice when I answer the phone. My mum died almost 11 years ago, and I still don’t think I’m used to navigating life without her. My mum died almost 11 years ago, and although I’ve aged in that time, married, had children, there are still times that I just want to stamp my feet and cry at how unfair it is that I have to do all this without mum here to talk to.
My mum was amazing – I know people always say nice things about people after they’ve died, but my mum really was amazing. She had a laugh you couldn’t ignore, and gave the best cuddles. She called me ‘doll’ and when she died I was 23 and we had just made that transition from ‘mum and daughter’ to ‘mum-friend and daughter-friend’. We talked almost every day and she used to say that I probably told her more than I should. When she died, I felt lucky that I had had so long with her. I felt like I was past the age that I needed a mum and that it all would have been so much worse if I had been younger. I think I was probably right, but at the same time, the older I get the more I realise how much we’ve all missed out on – I’ve missed out on having my mum to plan my wedding with and missed having her to complain to friends about when I had babies and didn’t have her giving me unwanted advice. But, god, how I wanted her advice. My children have missed out on knowing their grandma – and she would have been the best grandma. My husband has missed out on having a mother-in-law to roll his eyes about. And she’s missed out too – she’s missed out on getting to know my beautiful babies and all the next points of her life.
Life without mum is just downright weird. Logically, you know that parents ‘should’ die before their children, but there are times when I feel as helpless as a fledgling abandoned in a nest. I have a picture in my head of what it means to be a mum and a wife…but only up to a point. It’s like my mum’s life is the guide map to my own. I can picture my mum at my age – I can plot my own life through hers and know what I’ll look like, how I’ll tackle challenges, how my children will see me – but only up until I’m 45. After that I have no idea. What happens when you over take your mother?
I guess all I can do is live my life in a way that would make her proud. And it’s not enough – I know she’s somewhere in the ethereal ‘ever’ watching over us, and in that sense she’s proud of us, and loves my children. But it’s not enough. I don’t know how to mark my life to show that she has a space with me. I can see little glimpses of her sometimes in things I say, and in a fleeting expression on my daughter’s face. But I don’t know if the absence of mum in my life will ever get easier to bear. I don’t know if the scar left on the landscape of my life will ever grow over.
I don’t know why I’m writing this really. And I don’t know how to end it, because there’s no way to ‘sign off’ without sounding either trite or maudlin. I miss her. I don’t know if that will ever end.