So today, after over a month in the UK, we fly back to China.
It has been one of the worst months of my life.
Saying goodbye to my childhood home.
Packing – and throwing – away 44 years of my history.
I won’t lie, it’s been incredibly tough and I don’t think I’m anywhere near getting through it.
Part of that is because I’ve been so preoccupied with doing things like organising the funeral, sorting out my Mum’s legal matters and finding builders and decorators for the house, that it’s felt like I’ve had another full time job.
But now I am heading back to my ‘normality’ and I have to be honest, I’m scared.
I’m scared how I will feel now the distractions are over.
Sure, there will be other things to occupy my mind, but they won’t be like what I went through in Nottingham.
The things I had to do there was stuff that had to be done … demanded to be done … and given they all had a time limit for completion, it meant every waking moment was focused on specific tasks and objectives. However from here on in, everything is – to a large extent – optional and so my mind will be allowed to wander, reminisce, consider … and I’m worried where that will take me.
I got a taste of where I could be taken as I walked around the house for the final time.
Checking all the windows.
Closing all the doors.
Turning off all the radiators.
As I went from room to room, I heard myself saying goodbye.
Not just to the room or the house … but to the things, memories and people who once resided there.
Of course part of this is because it’s only 4 weeks since my Mum lived in this house.
Only 4 weeks since my childhood lived in this home.
But now it’s all gone and I’m finding it almost impossible to believe.
Yesterday I read all the posts I have written relating to this terribly sad time in my life … and while some things brought back jolts of painful memories and some, admittedly, also reminded me how fortunate I am, I had to often remind myself I was reading about my life, not someone else’s.
Deep, deep down, I feel I am in a dream and soon I’ll wake up and head to the hospital where I will see my beautiful Mum smiling as I walk into her ward. It’s mad. But I do. I just can’t quite accept it and that’s why I’m so nervous about how I will be once I get back to China.
Of course the fact is that while I’m leaving, the house remains.
From Monday people will be in it … fixing it … painting it … loving it.
And then a totally new family will be there.
Creating their own memories and experiences in each of the rooms.
But even if they lived there 1000 years, that house will still feel mine. Not just because I still own it, but in the sense its where my family came together and where my parents ashes are scattered.
I am eternally grateful to everyone who has been there for me, whether it’s in person or via messages.
I am also eternally grateful I was surrounded by my beloved wife and child and my closest friends.
The difference Otis made in particular, was astounding.
A constantly happy little chap who has the ability to be incredibly inappropriate at the most inappropriate time is a blessing in disguise as he ensures the darkness of grief can never fully take you away.
Being able to spend 5 weeks so close to him has been – in some ways – a gift and I should be grateful to my Mum for making it happen.
But I still wish she hadn’t.
I still think the sacrifice she made to make that happen was too big.
My life as an adult, in some ways, starts now … so it’s kind of ironic I feel more of a vulnerable child than I have in years and years and years.
Losing both parents is a strange sensation.
It feels like you are totally on your own. Abandoned. Left to fight your own battles.
Of course, compared to people who have really gone through that, I accept it’s nothing of the sort – but that’s how it feels and it’s both sad and unsettling, even though I came across a card my Dad wrote to my Mum on the day I was born that reiterated to me how much I was loved and wanted.
So as I get in the car to drive to the airport to fly to my ‘other life’, all I can say is goodbye Mum, house, childhood … you were amazing in every way possible and I’ll never forget you or be grateful for you or wish we could do it all again.
Miss you. Treasure you. Love you.