So today it is a year.
A year where, for me, time stopped.
A year from the day that started with high hopes but ended with despair and loneliness.
A year where I saw the best of humanity and the worst of emotions. Again.
Today I will relive those fateful final hours with my beloved Mum over and over.
I will remember the beautiful hours we shared talking about life and love … how I watched her smile as she looked at a video of my son … how she wanted a hair dryer so she could wash her hair before her operation.
I will remember it all in a bid to delay remembering the final hours.
Where I was looking for answers that weren’t forthcoming.
Where concern and fears slowly crept up on me.
Where I slowly realised things were not going as planned.
How I finally got to sit next to my Mum after her operation and despite her being totally sedated, I told her how much I loved her and willed her to get better.
Before things took their final turn.
And I was sent to wait in a room while they “checked things”.
Where I waited nervously with my wonderful friends Paul and Shelly who came to be my side … before I saw a DR and Nurse approach the room.
Who asked me to follow them and took me into a room opposite.
I knew what was coming …
As they spoke, I realised I was trying to hide behind my clenched fist. Ridiculous I know … but I was scared about the words they were going to say, even though I knew they were inevitable.
That moment it all became real and everything changed.
And yet, I still remembered to thank the Doctor and Nurse for everything they did.
The things that happened that night will stay with me forever.
At my lowest point, I still remembered the manners my Mum taught me … that she would want me to convey and express.
As I walked the short distance to see her, I didn’t know what to do.
Only 30 minutes had passed since I last saw her and yet now everything was different.
She looked serene, but I knew she wasn’t sleeping.
I felt frozen inside.
I wanted to reach out … to hug her … and yet I felt scared to do it.
I know that sounds crazy, but that’s how I felt.
So instead I kissed her on the forehead and gently stroked her cheek before sitting next to her and cried and cried and cried.
I wanted to try and be dignified – Mum hated being the centre of attention – so I held her hand and told her how wonderful she was … how grateful I was to have her as my Mum … how I will ensure Otis will always know who she was and how much she loved him … how I would do all I could to honour her and make her proud … how I was so glad we were together and that we had shared such a wonderful time in the morning.
And yet all through of this, I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to run away from the reality while feeling petrified to leave.
The moment I said goodbye … the moment I realised it was time to leave … it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to face.
I kept walking away only to come back. Afraid to leave. Afraid to give what had happened, validation.
From then on, everything has been a blur of emotion, confusion and challenge.
The things I needed to organise.
The jealousy I felt of seeing others with their Mums.
The decisions I didn’t want to make but had to.
The discovery Mum had been working in the background to try and make things easier for me should this terrible event actually happen.
In some ways, that is the ultimate demonstration of love … and yet I don’t like she did it because it meant she was thinking about that possibility and I never wanted her to be scared.
Since then, things have calmed down.
Things have been decided … acted upon … dealt with.
There’s still the odd moment of surprise, from receiving a credit card with her name on to – very recently – realising one of Mum’s friends doesn’t know what has happened and I’ve needed to write to notify them, but overall, thanks to doing things in the way I believe she would have liked, I feel I am slowly walking away from the shock and sadness of what happened a year ago today towards the love and memories of the previous 44 years together.
I still wish she was here.
I still wish that day, 12 months ago, had turned out differently.
I still wish she could have met Otis, her beloved grandson, ‘in the flesh’.
Everyday, when he does something wonderful [and it is every day] I wish I could ring her and tell her what he’s done … what he’s learnt.
To hear her voice … see her smile … just listen to her happiness.
But I can’t.
Instead, I think of her.
And feel lucky she was my Mum.
I miss you Mum.
I hope you’re with Dad, holding hands and laughing.