Christmas is over.
It’s been lovely. It really has. But……..
There’s always a but, isn’t there? When you’re grieving someone who’s still alive then there’s a but in everything.
When your kids open their presents – full of excitement and joy. Whoops of delight and wrapping paper crunching under your feet.
When your kids perform or sing in their nativities.
When you nail Christmas dinner – despite realising when your brother comes to carve the big fat bird that you’ve cooked the thing upside down!!!
When you meet a room full of relatives you’ve never met and it’s lovely and memorable and mind-boggling all at the same time, as it seems you’re related to half of Scotland.
There’s always a “but”. An “if only”. An “I wish….” A niggling thought. A pang of regret. Grief. Nostalgia for days long gone and drifting ever further into the recesses of memory and time.
Time is a thief, you see. Time sneaks up on you. You remember yesterday fondly. Last week is still within touching distance. But, before you realise it, before you can cement the tiny details to memory, time has created a chasm between you and those memories. A vast expanse of days and moments that lurk like a thick fog between you and your memories. Blurring them. Keeping them forever out of reach.
It is five years since Mum was at at my house for Christmas. Five years since she too cooked the turkey upside down! Five years since I spoke to my father on Boxing Day and raised my concerns about her memory and behaviour.
Four years since she was in a psychiatric ward for Christmas (a particular low point in this whole journey. Not recommended!)
Three years since she last had Christmas at home with my father, albeit a difficult and stressful one for all involved with Mum pacing the house searching, searching, searching for my dad. Unable to find him.
This year was my mother’s third Christmas in the care home.
Time, that sneaky little bastard has done it again.
There’s a saying that time is a healer. I don’t think that’s true. Not really. I think instead you learn to live with the pain. You learn to bury it beneath other stuff – the day to day act of living. Because you cannot be in a state of constant grief – it would be so debilitating – but it lurks. The grief finds a spot inside you and lurks there, whispering at you. Tapping at your shoulder when you least expect it. Hovering at every happy, family event, ready to knock the breathe from you without warning.
But, you learn grief’s ways. You recognise when you’re weak and you learn to manage those moments better.
And I don’t resent my grief, though it has embarrassed me on many occasion and floored me on many more. My grief is my memories. It is my childhood. It is my nostalgia and my youth. My grief is the future my mum will never have. It is the time with her grandchildren she is missing. It is the travelling she never got to do. The dances she never got to dance.
It is the love she had for us all and the love we have for her.
Grief is love.
You are the unwilling recipient of one, when you were lucky enough to have the other.
And the turkey? It was delicious. A highly recommended way of keeping your bird moist. Upside down roasting. Not sure you’ll find it in any of Jamie Oliver’s or Gordon Ramsey’s turkey recipes, but my mum? She’d have laughed and told me I’d done a marvellous job.
Miss you, Mum x
N.B: In loving memory of a friend and supporter of my blog, Loraine Walker who tragically lost her battle with cancer in November. She was such a warm, giving and fabulous lady who cared about others deeply. RIP, Loraine. I will miss our chats.