Some thoughts, a year on.
- The primary way I seem to have dealt with things is that I have locked almost all the memories of my mother in a tight strongbox inside my chest – to open it is to release so many thoughts of her, all of which cause me so much pain.
- It helps that this country is cold and far away instead of warm and bustling with people who knew her – it helps in that I can forget she existed and keep the strongbox locked. But it also means that when I do open it, even a tiny crack, I am in danger of being engulfed with a pain that no one is around to share with me. At such times, I miss my loved ones the most.
- It never occurred to me how few people my age have lost a parent. It’s a unique grief, and so much of the time when I tell my friends about it, they aren’t able to empathise quite so much, and they acknowledge that. The friends who have lost parents I hesitate to talk to, in case they also have strongboxes they can’t open for fear of what will come out.
- My family, in particular, continues to tell me this: I am so strong. Ironically, it is the strength they expect that often leads me to decline help. I want to say that I am not struggling any more, I am doing well, I am quite fine, thank you. But I’m not. I don’t think I will be for many years to come.
- I am so, so jealous at times of people, even my friends, who still have their mothers.
- I am slowly coming to terms with all the guilt I feel. I acknowledged sadness in the wake of my mother’s death – I did not acknowledge that I felt guilty, both for the downs in our relationship while she was alive, but also for the things I did not do that I feel now I could have done, or should have done better. I also feel guilty for continuing in a life that no longer contains her. I’m better able to acknowledge that guilt – even to some extent acknowledge that I was angry at her, for leaving me, for leaving so much undone. I don’t know what to do with these feelings except slowly, maybe, forgive myself.
- I miss her love, of course, the comfort it provided, but I also miss the person, the physical individual who will now never pass comments on the clothes I wear or tell me to eat my vegetables or whose lap I can lay my head on and feel my worries dissolve. I learnt today that a great-aunt of mine passed away in Pakistan. After my mother’s death, my aunt’s passing, and now this recent loss, I feel like all the mother figures in my life are leaving me – but I’m not yet an adult. I still need my mother(s). How does one deal with that?
- What I miss most of all, though, especially as I contemplate a life now ahead of me with love and a family of my own, is that she will not be able to experience this. I will not be able to share my own family with her, my partner and our children will not have her loving presence amongst them. My partner says that they will all know her through me, but I wish that they could know her in real life, and most of all that she could have known them. It seems cruel that this will never be.
- Final thought: the pain hasn’t really diminished, not in this one year. If anything it is still as powerful, just under the surface. My silence about my mother while she was alive makes it doubly difficult to talk about her after her death, but I think it is necessary to do so. Not just so that the people who love me now but who never knew her at least have an idea of what she was like – but also because that strongbox cannot keep things at bay forever. To remember is to grieve, but that seems the only way to move on.