So 6 weeks today my beloved Mum died.
In those 42 days, so much has happened and yet, as I sit here – tapping this out on my computer – it feels like nothing has.
Coming back to China has been weird.
It’s like all the pain and sadness and trauma that happened in England happened to another person.
It’s like I am cocooned from the loss and I have to be honest, I don’t like feeling that at all.
I feel guilty.
My Mum was everything to me and yet in some ways, I feel like little has changed.
And yet everything has.
I should point out that the reason for this attitude is not because I am a heartless bastard who doesn’t feel a deep sense of loss that my Mum has gone, it’s because I often forget she has.
I know that sounds incredible, but it’s true.
My ‘autopilot’ is like the last 42 days didn’t happen and everything is as it was.
I continually find myself thinking, “I have to tell Mum that”.
Or, “I’m just going to give her a ring”.
And then I remember I can’t … and my emotions kind of freeze.
I use the word ‘freeze’ specifically … because it’s like they don’t know what to do.
A slight nudge one way and I could break down into a mess of grief, a slight nudge the other and my brain might explode when the reality of the situation becomes clear to me.
My biggest fear is that I am constraining my grief.
I don’t think I am … part of the reason I wrote all those blog posts after my Mum died was to try and get my feelings out … but I might be.
And that would upset my Mum hugely because she knows I did that when my Dad died and that fucked me up for 10 years.
Seriously fucked me up.
But the fact is, living overseas when a loved one dies screws you up.
You don’t pass your old house every day.
You don’t pass the Church you held the funeral at every week.
You don’t see your family and friends every night.
It isolates you.
And while many may think this is a good thing – it helps you move on – I’m not so sure.
You’re left with turmoil deep inside you.
You feel torn between going one way or the other.
You have a sense that you need to change things to represent the deep change that has just gone on in your life.
I have to be honest, I’m going through this now.
I am literally fighting with myself about what to do next.
Part of me wants to run.
I want to take my wife, baby and cat and leave everything else behind.
Work. Planning. Home. China. England.
But the other part knows this is probably just part of the grieving process and some time and stability will help me feel ‘normal’ again … hence work, planning, home and China may be more important to me than they’ve ever been.
As you can tell, I’m feeling a bit helpless and conflicted right now and the thing I’m struggling with is wondering if I would feel this way if I was still in Nottingham.
Of course, seeing my Mum’s house every day would open up a whole different set of issues and emotions … but at least it would feel like I am letting my grief out. Right now, I feel everything has been frozen and placed in a room somewhere … waiting to be thawed out and trip me up all over again the next time I go home, whether for good or for a visit.
That scares me.
What scares me even more is that my little boy will one day go through this.
Hopefully he won’t feel as bad or as confused as I am, but the fact is he will go through it.
The irony is that a parent never wants their child to feel pain and yet, by the simple fact you become a parent, you know you will one day subject them to incredible sadness when you die.
It’s a horrible thought but it’s also the price you pay for becoming a parent.
So why do it?
Because frankly, being a parent is amazing.
It’s better than I could ever of hoped or expected.
Before Otis was born, I thought the best time would be when he was about 3 or 4 – when we could have chats and go on adventures – but I was wrong.
Every day is a brilliant day.
To be honest, it took me 4-5 weeks to really ‘bond’ with him.
Before that, I looked at him as this thing that I was responsible for … that I had to ensure I didn’t ‘fuck up’, but then, when he started gaining some personality traits, I felt an emotional connection to him like I’ve never felt before.
He is my little boy … someone I want to protect and show the World.
Someone who I get the honour of seeing learn and develop every day.
Someone who I will be excited to see make his way in the World.
When he smiles, everything is good.
When he smiles at me, everything is amazing.
He single handedly helped me deal with my Mum’s death in a better way.
That is not to take anything away from Jill, my friends and all the wonderful people who reached out to me, but his innocence and happiness made sure the darkness could never get to dark.
I’ve heard the phrase, “the miracle of childbirth” millions of times.
I can honestly say that I didn’t really appreciate what it meant until I had Otis … and I’m not just talking about the day he was born, I’m also talking about everything he has done for me since he was born.
It’s every positive, wonderful and amazing thing rolled into one.
From tomorrow this blog will get back to normal.
By that I mean it will get back to the rubbish I normally spout.
Some of the posts will be even more out-of-date than usual because I wrote them prior to my Mum dying and have just recycled them … but I’ve decided that from here on in, I’ll be back focusing on expressing my ridicule rather than [just] my pain.
My Mum would want that too.