I don’t know what to say anymore. It feels the same, and yet, I feel as if every word I have ever spoken or written about mum has not gotten near enough to what I have felt for the past five years.
You get used to it. And when you feel like there’s something missing from inside of you, something that seems integral to the very soul of you, you’re somehow still able to function without it. You’re sobbing on the floor and pain waves its way through your body but the loss is no longer at the forefront of your mind; something new and fresh has replaced it and it seems nonsensical to be hurt by this new thing, but you are. And this new hurt is just piled on top of the old hurt. Grief is just your old pal who’s always around. Like a tattoo you never actually wanted in the first place.
It feels like a lifetime since I heard her laugh; simultaneously, it feels like I said goodbye only yesterday.
Another letter to my mum, because that’s all I can do anymore. I can’t pick up the phone, and I can’t hear her voice. I can’t kiss her goodnight and I can’t ask her advice.
It’s been five whole years since I last saw your face, outside of a photo and outside of my mind. Five years since I looked into my favourite face in the world, the eyes that sparkle when they laughed and the smile that always made me feel safe.
I stood out in the rain before to let the raindrops remind me I’m alive. The raindrops mixed in with my tears and all I could smell was fresh earth and the beautiful smell of rain, and in a small moment, hot chocolates, while we watched movies on the Winter days I spent with you instead of at school.
the rain started to pour
as if the sky was feeling my pain
together we cried
until I could no longer tell
the different between
my tears and the rain / my sadness and the earths
we mourned a soul lost to the stars
one less life blessing the day
one more light guiding the night
page 34, inner workings.
In the past year, I have watched some of the closest people to me say goodbye to their family. And all it does is increase this incredible sense of empathy I was born with, and all I want to do is hold them all and tell them it’s going to be okay. But sometimes I’m not even okay, so I don’t know if that’s the truth anymore. All I know is that it reminds me of the day we said goodbye to you — the day I watched you take your last breath and any sense of the normal life I had before that moment, vanished. Completely gone. I felt as if I was out in the wilderness, and although I was surrounded by all those who I loved and loved me back, I was standing alone in a forest with no way out and no sense of direction.
I don’t remember much of the first year without you. I felt lost and confused but I pushed that down and acted as if it were normal. I thought that was the way to do things. I thought pretending I was fine was the way to be fine. And then people tell you everything happens for a reason, and you’re sitting there, smiling politely, nodding your head, clenching your fists out of sight because that single phrase could make you want to punch someone right in the nose. It doesn’t matter if things do happen for a reason. For a long time, I didn’t want to hear it.
Now, five years on, most days I forget that particular feeling. Getting the news you were sick. Spending my 18th birthday in a hospital by your side. Sitting in a chemo session with you instead of going to school. Laughing with other chemo patients and having people tell me they admired what I had with my mum. They admired that I was still able to make her laugh even though she was in such incredible pain. But you never showed it. I never even understood it.
But sometimes, something reminds me. One of your favourite songs, or a new song I know you’d like. Your signature smell, or a woman in the shops with your dress sense. And it’s that feeling again. The feeling, when my heart dropped into my stomach, when I figured out you were really going to be leaving this world. We were sitting on the couch together, and tears sprung up in my eyes. I turned to you and I told you I love you. And you wrapped your delicate hands in mine, and told me you love me, too.
The fact is, there is no such thing as a normal life. And I know this, I’ve always known it – but I had what was close to one of the most blissful lives, filled with teenage stupidity and shitty friends. Everything was thrown into perspective that day, but even now, I still lose that perspective. I still get caught up in the stupid, shitty things people say or do; the confusion of love and life, and caring about things that don’t matter. Perhaps that’s a sign that life has gone as much back to normal as it can be.
Because what really matters in life if you’re not doing your absolute best to make other people feel happy? Safe? There is nothing more I love than knowing the words I write make people feel something, or the stupid things I say make people laugh. Because I was put on this earth by you to touch people’s lives and I thank whatever I should be thanking, every day, that I had as much time with you as I did.
You were, you are, the most beautiful, loving, all-encompassing woman I ever had the chance of knowing, of breathing the same air with, of sharing laughs with. Of crying on your shoulder and allowing you to cry on mine. Of being your own blood.
You were never given the chance you should have been given. To live a full, happy life and sometimes the anger I feel over that injustice shrouds my entire mind.
I loved you then, I love you now, I love you forever. Thank you for this life, Ma. I hope I do it enough justice for you.