So today marks the 1 November (stating the obvious slightly). Halloween is over, you’re wondering what the eff to do with the pumpkins you painstakingly carved (and sacrificed a decent kitchen knife for), it’s cold, dark and the big C word is slowly impending upon us. Don’t get me wrong I bloody love winter and Christmas. Dark nights with a real fire, cold winter walks and most of all, winter clothes. Boots, hats, scarves, big woolly jumpers. I’m obsessed and it has absolutely zero to do with the fact my children will actually go to bed at a reasonable time because it’s darker earlier. The parenting dream after a summer of “but it’s not dark yet!” being yelled every evening.
But today, for me, always also marks another significant event. I mentioned the big C (as in Christmas) but it brings me to the other big C. You know the one I’m talking about. Cancer. As today also marks 15 years ago I lost my mum to cancer.
Now, most of the time this feels like so long ago I can barely remember life before she died. My older children obviously have no memory of her, they never ask me about her or what she was like. Which is fine of course. Maybe it’s because I never talk about it perhaps and it’s not the fact I’m bottling anything up or can’t talk about it. I just don’t necessarily feel the need to that much. I should add that I also lost my dad at age 11 so grief is somewhat normalised to me, something which became apparent many years later in counselling (which I am also a huge advocate of).
I’d definitely say that my relationship with my mum was somewhat strained. For numerous reasons growing up and I do think I’m still harbouring a touch of middle child syndrome (not just the middle child but one of two middle children so that surely ups the stakes on normal middle child syndrome, right?). I often wonder if this has had an affect in how I now react to this date, her birthday, etc. All those dates we should never forget but in all honestly there has been times when I have forgotten. Nothing makes you feel like a crappier human than forgetting the date your parents died or their birthday. And all of that makes me feel like an even crappier human as out of me and my siblings who were all much closer to my mum, I was the one there at the end. The one who told her to let go and watched her take her last breath. And those who have been there will know this is something that sticks in your mind as fresh as if it only happened yesterday.
But this morning I woke up early and knew instantly what this day means. It’s a day to remember my mum, the good and the bad, to try not to reflect on all the wonderful things she’s missed since she’s been gone such as the grandchildren she never met, the weddings she never got to see but remember that every parent is unique in their own special way. No two people grieve in the same way. And more importantly, to not beat yourself up when you don’t think about them.
Now, when is it officially acceptable to crack open mulled wine?