The day of love and celebration has been a day that I’ve ducked and weaved for a long time, in fact for the last 19 years because that is how long I have been motherless. Flicking channels to avoid the advertising onslaught and skipping church to avoid the happy families still together.
I was a teenager when she left, taken by cancer at 36, an age that seems preposterously young now that I’m a similar age.
The importance of her and the hole she left in the middle of me is a scar too vast to describe. Yet with time, memories fade.
I have shady recollections of ages and events. Birthday parties, jumping on my parents 70’s water bed, first days of school, car trips, hot summers; some are vivid but most are grainy and discoloured like old photos in a sticky paged album. No matter how hard I screw up my eyes, I can no longer remember her smell or the sound of her voice or what it felt like to be held by her.
When I was raw with fresh grief, this was my greatest fear, the forgetting. And still, all these years later, I would pay the pain over again for a bundle of crisp memories. For an adult conversation with my mother. For just one glimpse of her delight watching my own children.
With the forgetting comes the imagining. Imagining what sort of woman she was. What sort of Grandmother she would have been and the conversations we would have.
These imaginings are just fantasies but there ARE realities.
Though I can’t describe her face, the centre of me knows her. In ways I can’t describe, I know that my beliefs began with her. My internal voice says things that she would have said. I love my children like I was loved. The mother I try to be is based on knowing her, and on losing her.
The mother we are to our children in childhood shapes them; this is a big realisation and a big responsibility. Hold them close, love them hard and keep doing your best.
Motherless daughters are too many. If you’ve been shaped by losing your Mum, I want to say: I know. My heart is with you. I’m so sorry for your loss then. I’m so sorry for your loss today. I’m so sorry for your loss every day, as you miss her in different ways.
If it helps, even a little, I’d love you to share something about your Mum here.
And I really do wish you a Happy Mother’s Day
Naomi – Playing Mum