Today has been a strange day, for starters the sun has been shining in Yorkshire, the sky has been a bright, brilliant blue all day with no sign of even the smallest of white clouds and to top it all it’s actually been warm. This is a rare thing, or seems to have been recently anyway. We are told to enjoy it though, as apparently some wintry weather is coming our way yet again over the weekend. Perhaps I should rethink the Australia thing (see previous blog post My Roots) as we do seem to be more happy and more productive when the weather is good. There is something so wonderful about waking up to sunshine as opposed to the dreary grey Yorkshire days that make our winters seem so bloody long.
It’s been a funny old day too because I have seen my mum everywhere. No, I’m not going completely crazy myself, I know, of course I do that she is not in my town and wandering around Marks and Spencer on a Wednesday lunchtime, but I kept seeing her out the corner of my eye. It was a strange feeling.
It started this morning when I watched a video, my lovely cousin Gillian had put on Facebook of her and my mum dancing the jive a few years ago. In the short clip they are both smiling and laughing and looking pretty damned marvellous and rhythmical as they swirl and fling each other round the floor (they might not be the right dance terms!). It was a shock to the system this morning, seeing my mum like that. It seems like just yesterday when she was like that; able to keep up with everyone and anyone, putting most of us to shame on the dance floor as she either led her partner masterfully round and round or was led and therefore swooshed and swayed beautifully in her partner’s arms. I had to turn the video off after a few seconds, I found it too hard to watch this morning. I think I have recently taught myself to block it out most of the time, I think that is my way of coping day to day. To dwell on what we have lost and what we are going through, never mind what we will have to try and cope with in the near future, makes me just too bloody sad. Cripplingly so. But, seeing that video this morning was a trigger, a tiny trigger that unlocks something deep inside, that you’ve managed to keep locked away for a while, but once unlocked it is like a huge wave of grief is unleashed and it washes over you, threatening to engulf you completely in its immense gloom and sadness.
So, my little inner door that secures my sadness and the reality of Mum’s situation away from my day to day was flung open this morning and has been left ajar all day. I have not been able to close it fully yet, it has kept swinging open, offering me reminders of just how shit things are and just how much I am missing her.
I have not just seen grandmothers walking their grandchildren round town, laughing and enjoying each others’ company, but I have stared, perhaps quite rudely, jealous of their luck, envious of their good health. I have imagined it was my mum on the other side of the shampoo aisle in Boots this afternoon when I just caught a glimpse of the top of a woman’s head. I had to stop myself from running round the end of the aisle with my arms outstretched! I have seen my mum out the corner of my eye in the Marks and Spencer food-hall, but each time I turned to see her, to smile or to run towards her, desperate for her to hug me and tell me everything will be alright, she disappeared, melted before my very eyes and became someone else, a complete stranger. The irony is, of course, that she is a stranger now, for some of the time anyway. This woman who looks like my mum and for a few seconds every day sounds like my mum, is nothing like my mum anymore. She is a shadow of the wonderful woman I adore. She is fading before our very eyes, lost in a jumbled, scary, terrifying world where nothing is as she believes it to be, where everything is topsy-turvy and where no one is who they claim to be. It is a hell only she lives in and I am so desperately sad for her, for us, for everyone else who is experiencing and trying to live with this bastard illness.
One day I hope the video of my mum dancing makes me smile and I can show it to the kids proudly. Today, at least, I cannot watch more than a few seconds without tears prickling my eyes and my heart aching for her again. Maybe it is just too raw right now. Maybe the memory of her is too fresh, Maybe I don’t ever want it to be okay, to feel fine watching this video. Maybe I will never be able to watch it without feeling utterly devastated by how much I miss her. The only thing I can do for now is try to lock my inner door and shut away my pain whilst I try and get on with the day to day task of being a mum, wife, friend, sister….maybe that is all I can hope for right now. Some days I will succeed and some days will be an impossible challenge and I will fail, just like I have today. Instead of fighting it, I think sometimes I need to embrace my failure and wallow in my sadness, remembering that it is because of who she is and how lucky I have been to have had her that makes this so hard. So, tonight I will stop trying to lock my inner door, stop trying to lock away my pain. It is welcome to stay and for tonight, at least, I will let the tears fall. Do your worst, Pain. I am ready.