On 24th November 2012, my world changed forever when my beautiful, brave mummy passed away. She fought a gallant battle on and off for three years. She was diagnosed with a third reoccurrence in October and 6 short weeks later, she was gone.
When you’re faced with a terminal diagnosis, it’s an odd feeling. Mum looked pretty well and apart from the pain, which was being managed, she was relatively ok. But there’s always the big, white elephant in the room. She was an amazing woman – she never once complained or despaired. I never heard her ask “why me?” and she told me that whilst it wasn’t what she would have chosen, she had accepted it and wasn’t scared.
I think I half-mourned for mum somewhat during those 6 weeks, which made me feel guilty as she was still very much alive. Knowing someone is dying is like standing at the edge of the sea and knowing that a huge tidal wave is coming your way. You don’t know when or where, but you know that it will be overwhelming and devastating in equal measures, and you are powerless to stop it.
Mum passed after a very quick and relatively painless five days of rapid decline. My initial feelings were relief for her – she was a very proud lady and hated the thought of being ill and unable to do things for herself. I was able to tell her all the things that I had wanted to say when she was alive, but didn’t feel as though I could – like saying them out loud was an admission that she was going; that I was giving up on her. I had wondered for weeks what this moment would be like and when it came, it was calm and gentle and she looked peaceful. She looked like my mummy.
In the weeks since she’s passed, life has continued, as life does, but my life will never be quite the same again. I carry the pain of missing her around with me everyday, sometimes it’s ok and other times I feel totally bereft. Zach is just amazing and keeps me smiling – I told him that Nana now lives in the sky, so he points and waves upwards every now and then, and his latest addition to this ritual is to say “Nana, sky, slippers” – which probably isn’t too far from the truth.
My overwhelming sadness is that my son won’t know his Nana as he gets older. I know she’s watching down on him – on all of us – but I’m devastated that he won’t know the wonderful, funny, caring, loving woman that she was. Of course I’ll tell him about her and her funny little ways – like the fact that she pronounced “potato” with a ‘b’ (imagine my shock at 4 years old finding out that it wasn’t ‘botato’ after all). But knowing that he won’t properly remember her makes my heart hurt.
I know time will make the aching feel less raw, and I’m equally aware that it’s still early days. Life goes on, whether we want it to or not. As much as you want the world to stop because she’s not here anymore, the days pass and some are not too bad and others are weighed down with missing her.
I find myself wondering what kind of mother I’ll be without her – we spoke everyday and although we lived an hour and a half apart, she knew everything about Zach, my life, what I was doing and I always sought her advice. I hope she’s proud of the way I’m raising my son and I like to think she’s looking after us and guiding us.
So mum, all I can say is that I miss you – I miss speaking to you everyday, I miss being able to tell you that Zach is finally sleeping through the night, that he tried banana the other day without pulling that “you’ve-just-poisoned-me” face. I miss hearing your voice, I miss seeing “mum” flash up up on my phone when it rings, I miss you opening the front door when I go home to visit dad. I miss having my mum here.
I’m so grateful that I got to have you as my mummy for 32 years and that part of you will live on in Zach. I love you, I miss you, sleep tight x