I heard a woman talking on the radio this morning about losing her mother. She was describing realising, whilst travelling, that it was the anniversary of the death of her mother and breaking down into uncontrollable sobs.
The thing is, this woman was now 70 years old – and she lost her mother 60 years previously.
60 years of pent up loss and grief and frustration, all pouring out of that woman so long after the event might sound unbelievable to some. But to me – I can totally get that.
I lost my own mum nearly 12 years ago. She was 53 and I was 31. Of course, life moves on and so did I. I have a happy family and love my writing. But there’s always something missing. Always someone missing, to be exact.
I know many women who have difficult relationships with their mothers. I was not one of them. She had me quite young, and it felt that we grew together throughout our lives. I could talk to her about anything; I knew she would never judge me.
When I had my first daughter, she said she was so happy because it was like having me little again. Now that that baby is 16 years old, I can see what she means. You grieve a little more every time they need you a little less, despite how proud you are of who they are growing into.
The thing is, I’ve been feeling a bit lost the last couple of weeks, and I couldn’t put my finger on why. There’s nothing wrong – everyone’s healthy and my writing’s going well. Then it hit me: it’s December. Christmas, with its rosy images all over the place of big, happy families sitting down to celebrate together, generations converging.
I always feel lost at this time of year. It takes me back to the last Christmas we had together, when mum was letting go of life and I was running around trying to put on a false façade of wonderfulness for my little girl, when all I really wanted to do was get under the duvet and stay there until it was safe to come out. Ditto the following year, when she wasn’t there.
Every shop I went into that year had blaring, cheery music I wanted to turn off. Every Christmas advert made me cry. Every time I saw a poinsettia for sale I broke down and had to leave the store. They were mum’s favourites, and I bought her one every year.
So, this morning, when I heard that woman talking about crying for her dead mother some 60 years after losing her, I thought – yes. That is why I feel like this. It’s that time of year again, when the jollity and fun has to start and I feel like hiding away.
So I will paint on that smile, get out the trimmings, try not to cry when I take out the little 1970’s mouse in a stocking that was mine as a baby. Or the Santa Paws doorstop I bought my cat-mad mum out of my first wages in the ’80’s.
I will do what’s necessary to make sure everyone else has a nice time. Because that’s exactly what she would have done.
Cherish those closest to you this season.
Ps. If you have anyone you know who’s lost someone this year, read the article I wrote for Skirt Collective here: http://www.skirtcollective.com/6-ways-to-help-a-grieving-friend/