I’m preparing for a visit from my sister. She lives across the other side of the country and she and I are both finding that as we get older, we are softer to one another. More compassionate about the challenges we face, more cognisant of the similarities than all the differences. I find myself seeing my sister through our mother’s eyes. With a special kind of maternal love and tenderness; a kindness that evaded me in my younger years. I think we recognise that without our mother, we are the only ones who can bring Mum’s loveliness back. By being her hands, her heart… for each other.
At the local grocer’s, I was looking at the fresh cut flowers, mentally relishing the names of all the flowers Mum loved. I saw the Alstromarias, the Roses (blush pink for the wedding dress she sewed my sister) and the Leukodendrons. I could almost hear my mother’s voice, patiently showing me how to trim the stems, why we do; chatting as she arranged stems lovingly in a vase. She loved flowers. I bought the pink roses, the pink and plum-toned Alstromarias she favoured in her garden (they last such a long time, she would say… a brilliant cut flower) and the green and deep burgundy Leukodendrons. I bought them on behalf of my Mumma, a tribute of her love for my sister.
Earlier, at the hospital pharmacy, my eye was drawn to all the things that Trissy would love. I chose some sugar free jubes, smiling at the memory of how Mum used to squash jubes and marshmallows between thumb and forefinger before popping them into her mouth with a flourish. I chose some jelly beans, because Mum liked them too, she kept them in her handbag and would sneak a few in at an opportune moment. I chose some soap that smelled of Guava, a strong childhood memory portal, that scent.
I feel my Mumma close to me today, as I get ready to see her other girl. My sister and I will chat all weekend about her, about life and love and motherhood and all-the-things. I look at my hands, looking more and more like I remember hers. The same lines. The same textures and contours. I like that. Her hands, my hands.
Just for a while this weekend; the strength of longing of two girls for their Mum will be satiated by some time spent with someone who understands. Like no other person could.
In the presence of what remains. Each other; sisters, daughters.
My mother in law Mary has just passed away, you might have read about that here recently. She slipped away late in the quiet of night. I like to think of her last exhale as a sigh; no more struggle. I like to imagine her now, free to move. Happy, laughing and feeling at ease.
The last time we saw her she was having a good day. My husband cracked a joke and her face broke into a sudden grin; she laughed and we saw a glimpse again of the Mary, Mum and Nanna that we know. I like to think about that moment and I am grateful she got to share a laugh with her son. She loved him so much.
In the beginning, I used to think of her irreverently, as ‘Mary: Mother of God’
…because, like many doting mums, the sun rose and shone in the eyes of her boy. As if he himself were God! I thought wryly. It seemed that he could do no wrong, and when we visited, her whole world would shift to revolve around him completely. I remember we were talking about him one day, soon after he and I had got back together again after a breakup; I stated what I thought was the obvious, “-yes, but even he is not perfect you know, Mary”. She looked at me and her mouth dropped open, just for a second, and I realised that in her eyes, he just was.
Of course, I wasn’t a mother myself then, and now that I am, I understand her better. In her eyes, her son was perfect. She loved him completely and unconditionally. That kind of love is the special reserve of mothers. He is a lucky guy to have been so loved, so adored. I’m sure it is part of why his self esteem is so robust. She has always been his unwavering cheer squad, his bringer of supper and endless cups of tea.
Sometimes, believing that your kids are perfect makes it hard to love their partners. Mary and I didn’t think the same way, and there were times that I thought we would never breach the awkward misunderstandings between us. It seemed impossible for her to know that we were actually allies in the same quest; to love the man she raised and the man I chose. Maybe I just wasn’t the sort of girl she understood, but I always felt the love I gave him was not the love she thought he needed. I agonised over it for years, wondering how I could do better or convince her that my intentions were pure.
I suppose it is common in mother-in-law/ daughter-in-law relationships. Many of my friends would say I am not alone. I persevered with the relationship because I knew that family was more important than those feelings. That there would be a time when she might need me. As she got sicker and the Parkinson’s Dementia took hold, she often spoke to me about Rachel, her son’s wife. Because in those conversations, to her, I was someone else entirely. During those times, I enjoyed a friendship with Mary that I hadn’t experienced before. It was quite good for both of us. I’m grateful for all those times when we were able to see each other through fresh eyes, and find something in each other to love.
The visit before last, in a rare moment of lucidity, she told me she just wanted her boys to be happy. My mother heart understood that so completely. Her eyes seemed to implore me to take up the torch, to make sure of it. I held her hands and told her I would do everything I could, but I knew even as I said it, that neither she, nor I could do enough to ensure her sons’ happiness. And that is the pain of love. To want to make everything perfect, to smooth the way, to lower the barrier, to ease the burden. We wish to do this for the ones we love even though we know that we cannot control the hardships of life. They are not ours to command.
I held him in my arms after we heard that she had passed. He’s a big guy, my hubster. I held that big man and listened to the boy within, as the realisation began to wash over him. I held him and I thought about how far happiness was in that moment, and I offered him instead, comfort. Empathy. I listened and I helped him pack his suitcase. I made him a coffee for the midnight drive home. I wished I could take away the shock, the loss, the thoughts of what might have been. I know from my own loss, that those things are the price we pay for having had the love of a great mother. I could no longer take them from him than take the sun from the sky.
I think of Mary and imagine her soaring high above us, her eagle eyes watching out for her boys like she always has.
I know I am failing her still, failing to make him happy in the ways she wanted for him. I cannot be the sort of wife she wished me to be. I will not subject myself to the sort of life many women of her generation chose. I just cannot believe in my heart of hearts that the pathway to marital happiness lies that way. At least, it certainly doesn’t for the hubster and I. When I am subservient to him, it simply breeds resentment. It’s not our recipe for success.
Still, these days I feel softly towards her for her expectations. In my head, I ask her to forgive me for not meeting them, because I simply can’t. I ask her to look again at him, to notice. He loves an imperfect woman, lives an imperfect life. And, he is already happy, in all the ways that count the most.
Rest now; mother Mary. Rest safe in the knowledge that in any way I can, I carry your love forward into the future. I cannot mother him as you did, those times for him are treasured and past. But your boy, he’s safe in my arms,
I don’t think there is a more fitting song than this one for this post, it was written by Paul McCartney, about his own mother Mary who died when he was 14. This one is a cover by Vazquez Sound, I just loved that it was sung by a child, because nothing renders you closer to your inner child than the passing of your mum. So this is for my man, and for me too.
the rainbow comes and goes,
and lovely is the rose,
the moon doth with delight
look round her when the heavens are bare,
waters on a starry night
are beautiful and fair;
the sunshine is a glorious birth;
but yet I know, where'er I go,
that there hath passed away a glory from the earth.
An old school friend of mine lost her mama this week. Her mama was Clara, a lady whose life converged with my family’s history and made our story better for having her in it. She was a beautiful, gentle, loving person, a special friend to many; but to her children she was the beginning of love itself. To not have her here with them now must be so hard to come to terms with.
Losing your Ma is a journey I know well. It’s the trip you never want to take, the inevitable traverse through times that test and trouble the very fabric of our identity. Because, who are we without our mothers? Can we walk through life without them? Can we possibly take the torch of their wisdom in our families and communities… are we even ready for that?
I remember how Mum’s death was a relief and also a shock. We’d been with her as she battled seven years of cancer. So it was a relief to know the pain was gone, the struggle ended. But I wasn’t prepared for the finality of death. The absolute ‘gone’ of death. No more smiling waves and see-ya-laters. No more one-more-times.
The strongest feeling I had the day of my Mum’s death was a feeling of being little girl lost. I remember being about four, lost in the shopping mall. It was a terrifying feeling; an empty wide chasm of fear and abandonment opened up in my little heart.
I retraced the way we had come, hoping to find her back in time. She was nowhere. The tears obscured my vision, I sat down and howled. A nice lady took my hand and led me to the mall head office. I was placated with a lollipop and the loudspeaker called my Mum. When she found me there, my relief was complete.
Losing her to death reminded me of that feeling I’d had as a child. I didn’t know if I could do life without her. I didn’t know how I could carry all the weight of my love for her, now I couldn’t give it to her anymore. I wished there was a Universal loud speaker system that could bring her back to me.
In some ways, there is. I see her in the beauty of life, even in the peonies that are slowly fading in the vase. I feel her when I am mothering like she did. I hear her words coming out of my own mouth and I see her expressions in my daughter’s beautiful face. I didn’t know if I could do life without her, but I have. I didn’t think I could carry all that love, but I do. Sometimes, I give some of it back to myself. I mother myself because she can’t do it anymore.
I still cry a lot about losing my mum. Things set me off. Like trimming our Christmas tree, or a song, or seeing a mother and her grown daughter meandering together through a mall. Sometimes just talking with my siblings or hearing a laugh like hers can do it. Seeing my children do something my Mum will never see them do. Watching from afar as Clara’s family gracefully carried her through her final days. The triggers are everywhere. The sudden upsurges of grief never far from overwhelming me.
I will always miss her. I will always yearn for her to be here with me still. That’s the nature of love. There’s no time limit on grief, it is just an ever present part of life without her.
This poem meant a lot to me during the early days of Mum’s absence. I return to it, days like today, when we are remembering the beautiful woman that Mum’s friend Clara was. She will be so missed.
Daniella, Geoff and all of the Tabor/Ila clan, my heart is with your hearts. It is so hard to travel the days without your Mama. I know you will find strength in what remains behind. But I wish she hadn’t had to leave so soon. I imagine in heaven, our mamas will be together. It’s nice to think of them together.
Love to you all from my family. Clara was one in a million. A truly beautiful soul.
we will grieve not, rather find
strength in what remains behind;
in the primal sympathy
which having been must ever be;
in the soothing thoughts that spring
out of human suffering;
in the faith that looks through death,
in years that bring the philosophic mind.
The poem is ‘Intimations of Immortality’ by William Wordsworth.
The flowers are my vase of peonies that I can’t bear to throw away; every day they seem more beautiful, even as they draw near to the end.
The winter sun seeps thin and white through the cloud cover. The rains have been sporadic, like the tears of grief when not one year, but two have passed. When the irrefutable fact of her passing has seeped into your bones, and you know, there is no going back. The rain connects across the Tasman in great arcing fronts. Every year on this date, stretching between countries, across time, back to Kellie’s death, and to her friends and family. Reminding me that time is passing, but the grief doesn’t. It just changes, like the weather. Shifting the pressure and moving the isobars. Hail today, rain tomorrow. Some snow among the chilly grey.
I think of beautiful Kellie. Of how short her life was yet how much of a life force she was. I imagine her directing the weather like a Greek Goddess, goblet in hand, laughing at the storms. Revelling in the thunder and sending out lightning from her fingertips; her anger and joy all rolled into one vibrant and terrifyingly beautiful heavenly creature. Making her presence felt in the skies.
I think of her family with my own mother heart. It’s so unfair that they have to do life without her. I hope they are okay, two years into their marathon. I hope they are finding their own ways to keep her close, to remember and celebrate her astonishing vibrancy. I stand with her friends and family, across the ether, raising a glass in acknowledgement. That Goddess woman. Gone but never forgotten.
Yesterday, a pony died. A special pony… the ‘best friend’ of Bee’s pony. It was septicaemia that got her. She was sick, she was taking medicine. Then she was gone.
Trina was a darling pony. A grey, like Lulu. Trina was the pony I loved the most when Bee started at her riding school. I would watch Trina with awe as she sped around the jumps in the arena, flying over each hurdle with gusto. She liked to go fast. In horse years, she was a young lady. Old enough to know a bit about the world. Young enough to still flirt with speed and enjoy the challenges of competition. I would watch her and dream that one day, Bee might have a pony like her.
When Lulu came to be Bee’s pony, she joined the main herd. There are two groups out where the horses live. The ‘top paddock’ sport horses, and the general herd, which is made up of owned ponies and school horses. It’s a sizeable herd and Lulu took a while to find her place in it. When she lived on the property previously, she was a top paddock mare. I think she remembered that and didn’t much enjoy the comedown. Horses are herd animals and develop strong bonds. They need each other. And breaking into a herd you don’t know must be akin to moving to a new city. Lulu was sad, and drifted around on her own, or waited at the gate, for a few weeks. Then, after a while, we began to notice that Trina had become Lulu’s special friend. They ate together, drank from the bore together, and could always be found near each other when they had to be caught.
When Trina got sick, Lulu lay down beside her in sympathy.
And now Trina has died, Lulu must surely wonder what has happened to her dear companion. Do you think she knows? I hope she does. I hope she understands that Trina isn’t feeling sick anymore. I hope there is a horsey kind of statute of limitations on grief and that Lulu won’t suffer this loss for too long. And I hope she will find another special friend soon. It must have been so lonely out there last night. Her horsey heart must be sore.
My eyes keep leaking, because this pony business has made me even more of a sook than I was before. I can’t bear the thought that one day, Lulu too will cross the rainbow bridge. I don’t know how horse owners can cope with that sort of grief.
Rest in peace beautiful Trina. You will be missed by so many. I really wish you could have stayed in the paddock with your girl, Lulu. I bet she does too. Because there is nothing that makes the heart feel more secure than being able to hang out with your best friend. I know that when it is her time to go, she’ll be welcomed into horsey heaven by you. Because that is the kind of friend you are, until then Trina, remember our girl Lulu, she loved you very much. X
“…comme-ci, comme-ca” my son’s small hand wavers horizontally in the manner of telling me he’s feeling, well, middling. Not this, not that. He’s into language, currently French. Much easier to comprehend than some of the made up languages he used to speak in! I have to say, I concur with his sentiments, but for different reasons. Today is Christmas day and he’s been gorging on christmas stocking treats, so faced with the prospect of Christmas dinner, he’s non committal. But my middling feelings are not about food. No. I’m feeling middling about Christmas itself. A holiday I have always loved is so much more complex now. I don’t think I can explain it to him, and anyway, he bounds off to do something busy. I’m left to myself to prepare the salad, left to my own middling thoughts, my own sweet and sour, light and shade. My own shadow dance.
This time of year is reminiscing time, and I try really hard every year not to fall into the murky depths of melancholy. I think a LOT about my mum. About my childhood. And about how I wish I could just tell her that I get it. All the stuff I didn’t get when I was a clueless kid, an angst-ridden teen and a self-absorbed young woman. All the stuff about being a Mum, and the efforts that go unnoticed. All the stuff about the importance of having family traditions, how crucial manners and generosity are. How hard you have to work to help the family with that stuff. I want to look her deep in the eyes and make sure she knows that I finally get it, and I am so thankful to her. If she were here, she’d probably shrug me off, in her trademark bluster. But I’d put my hands back on her shoulders and say “MUM! I get it!” and she might laugh and tell me there is still waaay more for me to get. I’m a long way off knowing it all.
Grief reaches across the years, never really releasing me. And it’s not just because of the aching chasm that exists where her love used to be. But because of the lost opportunity to love her back. She’s gone. No more chances to let her know that I appreciated all of that self sacrifice and hard graft. With every decoration I hung on my tree this year, my heart keened for her like it was her last day all over again. I can’t have Christmas without memories of her that ghost through every song, every ritual, all the ways we do things. For me, there is no joy to all men without sadness for one woman.
I just miss my Mumma… you know?
The tsunami of feeling inundated me mid-morning. The hubster was having a nap. The kids were playing amongst the drifts of wrapping paper on the living room carpet. I decided it would be good to take my tears out into the wind and I strapped on my helmet and climbed on my bike. Even with my legs burning and the rush of air against my face, the sadness enveloped me. Chased me around the quiet streets. Followed me through the park. Settled in my chest where I knew it would weigh on me for the rest of Christmas Day.
It occurs to me that the only way I can love my Mum without her here, is to pour the love I have for her into my kids. Her grandbabies. She would probably have liked that. I look at my girl, lying next to the cat in a sunny patch of the floor, so young-old it hurts. I hear my little guy, shadow fighting an imaginary opponent with his light sabre, he’s bound to be victorious any moment now. I will love these kids with all the love that belongs to you Mumma.
An extra serve straight from my mother heart, the one I inherited from you. x
PS. We watched Inkheart tonight. Tom Baxter’s song ‘My Declaration’ is the theme song. I loved it and thought I’d share it here. It’s a good anthem for carrying on, for doing your best.
I like to think that you can read this from wherever you are. I like to think that because it is comforting to me. And comfort, when it comes to the absence of you, is scarce. So I take my threads of hope in there being a hereafter and I try to weave them into something tangible. You, looking over my shoulder from another dimension. Reading about the shock wave of your departure. Knowing that you are missed as much today as this day a year ago.
Truth is Kel, there really isn’t any way of reconciling your departure. It was sudden. You were such a long way from home… you were meant to come back to us. You are meant to be here. I wish you were.
I spoke with you on Facebook messenger, we talked about the kids, your man, how it was all going. You said how tired your were and something awful gripped me. Through all the difficulties to that point you had barely even mentioned feeling low, even though the trials were many. You were in isolation, and glad for the opportunity to rest. Then it went quiet. I hoped then that you were getting lots of rest, that you would bounce back onto my screen and tell me how the weekend had been for you. But then, I saw a message in our patient group. Someone said what a terrible shock it was to hear about your passing. I reeled. I messaged you. Kellie? Did you hear me? Did my thoughts catch in your wake and follow you to where you are?
I wrote to you on messenger for a while after I knew for sure. Not wanting to believe you were truly gone. I’d been your online friend since you messaged me to ask if I would help with your blog and it was a fast-track friendship. I hadn’t known you for very long, but I suspect you had a gift for making everyone feel like your close friend. Warm, funny, irrepressible. That’s how I found you. I enjoyed our friendship and I looked forward to the futures we imagined, cured and cackling with a glass of wine. Trans-tasman trips and girlie weekends. We joked about an arranged marriage for our firstborns, the way Mums like us can. Mums who wish they really could make the world do their bidding, keep their kids happy, safeguard the future. Mums who knew we couldn’t do any such thing.
I wish I knew how your family are. But I never joined your personal Facebook page. We were always in contact via messenger or email and I don’t know how I didn’t think to Facebook friend request you. I wish I had. I would have loved to have seen all the beautiful things your friends have said about you. To share with them this difficult date, a year since you left us. If any of them see this, I hope they know they are not the only ones wishing you were here. Sometimes it helps to know there are others keeping the memories alive too; here we are Kel, a groundswell of grief. Your people.
I miss you Kellie. I miss your profile picture popping up. I miss the laughter that you brought me even on my sickest days. Sometimes I would laugh until the tears squeezed out the corners of my eyes. We were cyber friends, digital buddies, pen-pals of the keyboard kind. When my days were awful, you were a bright spot. You funny, irreverent, girl. I am cast adrift by my grief at your loss, and I knew you for such a short time. I cannot begin to comprehend how your Mum, your Aunty, your best friend are getting on. Your man, your eloquent lad, your beautiful girl. All the people closest to you.
Today, the world has travelled once around the sun since your heart stopped beating. For Mark and Luc and Ash, the rest of your beloved family, your friends; every laborious step of that year has been heavy with longing for you. There will be a silvery path of salt water in the wake of Earth’s orbit, because Kellie, we cannot help but measure our grief for you in tears and time. The earth will keep on traversing that path, and every year as it passes this dreadful date, we will commemorate you. All of the special memories that each of us has. All of the beauty, and liveliness that was you. We will put down our work, our play, our every-day, and remember the way our own worlds stopped the moment we heard about you. The incomprehensible news that you were gone from us. Around the wells of sadness that opened in our hearts, we will ring wreaths of remembering.
If my hopes are real, and somewhere just beyond, your soul is living on; know that we are remembering you. Know that you mattered to us. Know that everything you did and said and loved and created left an indelible print in this world. You’ll be up there wearing some gorgeous jewelled floaty kaftan. Raising a glass with some new friends and old. Rarking it up in celestial style. We miss you Kel.
She is standing in the witness stand. The trial has been dragging on, but she is here for a very important reason. It’s time to tell the perpetrator exactly what impact their crime has had on her life. She’s been waiting for an opportunity to make her voice heard. Yet she doesn’t even know if her words will make landfall. Still, she has to say them. She takes a deep breath and begins to read a letter.
Imagine if you got the chance to tell your Diagnosis exactly what it has done to your life. If you were writing that letter, what would you say? What would your ‘victim impact statement’ describe? Here’s mine:
Some of my friends have pet names for you. But I have never wanted to do that. Calling you something cute might give you the idea that I’d like us to be friends, when I don’t think that is possible. I often wish I had never met you.
I’ve had weaknesses in my autonomic nervous system, since I was a kid. And that was okay; just something about me I learned to make adjustments for. Those little quirks of my system, the fainting, the tummy aching, the tiredness. Those things were just something to accept, like my lack of natural talent on the sports field. Who needs basketball when they have books?
Then you arrived with full force. You came in through a window left open by a nasty virus. You made my already wobbly autonomic nervous system your target. You hijacked my immune system and made it your henchman. It’s been doing your dirty work ever since. You hid there, where they didn’t think to look for you. Sneaking around my nerve junctions, sliding out of view as one doctor after another searched for the reason behind my ills.
First, you had a go at my heart. They put in a pacemaker to limit your influence. Then my digestion, and my ability to go to the toilet. You made my extremities burn and numb in relentless torment. You troubled my focusing ability and pulled and pushed my blood pressure into a see saw of ups and downs. You made it hard for me to regulate my temperature and threw in some dizziness every time I moved into an upright position, you drowned my days in bone sapping fatigue. You shifted my career well out of my reach. I felt so purposeless. The doctors gave me pills and potions, enemas and catheters. For every trick you pulled, we tried counter-manoeuvres. Few of them were effective.
There were times when it even seemed like you had taken the shine away from the best treasures of my life. My marriage and the motherhood I had longed for. These gifts were tarnished because I couldn’t be the wife and mother I yearned to be. I was angry with you for that. Angry on behalf of the beautiful people I call my own, too. I was so angry about the freedom I had lost to you; they had lost to you.
I hoped. For six years, living with you, attached to my every move, dulling my capacity to think. I hoped. Someone will discover something, I thought. Medical advancements are happening all the time. Maybe they will identify something important in those minuscule, sparsely funded research studies. And they are. Little by little the scientific community is inching their way towards something. I chanced upon a keynote presentation by a neurologist in the States. A man who has studied autonomic ganglia for years. It flicked a switch in my brain and I began to see. There might be a way to finally let you know, Dysautonomia. You’re not welcome here.
And now, I’m on a very promising treatment pathway; I’m getting the movers in. I just wanted to write you this letter as we attempt to excise you from my life. My own victim impact statement. All those things above, they are painful facts about why I don’t like what you have done to me. But there are other facts too. Surprising gifts you’ve given, even as you have been carving your swathe through my autonomic nerve fibers.
You taught me that I could find things out. Figure things out, too, things way beyond my artsy brain. You led me to patient groups where I have found some of my staunchest friends. And you forced me to re-arrange my interior self. To consider who I am and what I want to be remembered for. To identify the things that really matter. To let the people I love know how I feel. And you gave me back a gift I had dropped a long time ago. You made me write again.
I don’t know why it is that it takes hardship to gain insight. But it does. Being sick with a chronic illness, dealing with you, Dysautonomia, seems like too harsh a price to pay, but I would pay it all over again. To learn what I have learned, to become who I am becoming. I would like to tell you that although I don’t like you, didn’t want you in my life and would dearly love to see you go, I am grateful to you. You are my shortcut to wiser living. A portal into a new and better me.
Thanks for that. I also want you to know, that even if I never manage to eradicate you from my life, I will always be your EX victim. Because I can choose whether or not I continue to be victimised by your presence. And I choose a different perspective. To accept that every torment, is a teacher.
“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”
― William Shakespeare, Macbeth
There is no doubt in my mind that using words is therapeutic. My blog has given me so much more than I have ever put into it. I have met people through my blog that real life would never have introduced me to and they are all people I definitely was meant to meet. Life is better by far for knowing them. For knowing YOU. I sit here in my ‘corner office’, tucked up in my bed, typing my heart out onto the internet, and people raise their hands and say “over here, Rach, me too!”. I am heartened by the connections and community. I am grateful for a place to explain the things that I find hard to fit into regular conversations. I have growing optimism about my role in this life, why I am here, what it is I am to do. Who I am, even.
Thank you so much for reading my words.
Tell me who you are, too? Many of you have stories of your own, words that have been waiting to be expressed. Many of you have been waiting for the right time to write them. This is your time. I would like to invite you to share some of your writing, here. Poetry, stories, reflections, collected thoughts. All types of writing welcome. If you would like to share, my place is your place. Gather your words and publish them in a comment below.
I can’t wait to read yours.
Let’s get our words together, lest the grief that does not speak knits up our o-er wrought hearts and bids them break.
Talking is good. I can talk! But writing gives better shape to my words. Let’s them step out in ordered lines, marching to the beat of the same drum. Rhythm, cadence, innuendo, pace. Often, my writing comes when my music is playing.
When it comes to music itself, I prefer to listen to others, rather than make my own. The music I make sounds better in written words. You can trust me on that one.
Or ask my hubster about my ukulele concerts.
Music is solace, medicine and healing for the troubles in my heart. I listen to escape, reminisce, to motivate myself or to find a way to let out some tears. For me, both music and movies are effective cry-button-pushers. Sometimes, you just need to have a good cry.
I heard a song, once, directly about grief for a lost mother. I think it was called ‘Goodbye’s The Hardest Word’. It was playing on the car radio and it lasered right in on my softest spot. I was overwhelmed. I pulled over and let the crying overcome me… It was a few years after my Mum had died, and it was Celine Dion. But even the number of years that had passed and my personal music taste barriers didn’t stop the grief. When it comes, it comes on strong. We call them SUGs around here. Sudden Upsurges of Grief. Sometimes they don’t even require a song. I’ll be busy getting about the business of my day and WHOOMPH. SUG. Sock it straight to the heart.
Mumma! Where are you?!
I am all at once, a child again, lost in the crowd. Seized with terror. Where’s my Mum?
Her name was Faith. She passed that name to me, and I to my girl. I love that link between the three of us. It’s forever. It’s longer than life. One day, someone will be researching a family history and there we’ll be. Three steps down, faith on the family tree.
She was beautiful. Hard case. Shy. Loving and controlling and supportive and wise. And mine. She got ovarian cancer and fought for seven years. I became her friend in those seven years. And a grown up. And a mother myself. We spent hours together, working on her memory books. She read endless stories to my wee girl, far beyond the patience of a parent. She was a special Granny. They were mates.
“We’s mates, ay?” she’d say to Bee in a funny voice, eyes twinkly over her glasses. Bee loved her with ferocity. She was two when Mum died. Even now she still wakes sometimes, crying in the night, deep in the clasp of her own SUG. She misses her Granny. Zed never got to meet her.
I find myself sounding like my Mum, sometimes. A turn of phrase, a sharp repast when I’m stretched thin. A quirky saying or a loving squeezy ‘mmmmph’. I mother like her; on my good days. And somehow, I always know what she would say about any given thing. Usually the opposite to what I would want to hear but almost always, truth. I know if she was here, she’d be over, fluffing about and helping me. I know she’d be bringing me articles about how I can get fixed and staging sneaky prayer fests. She’d be loving me the way only a mother can.
So, today, I want to post a little song on here. It’s quite possibly my favourite ‘farewell’ song. I love it very much. The Indigo Girls have caught, by some musical magic and lyrical gift, the pain and beauty that co-exist in real human relationships. The imperfect, perfect love between two people.
When someone you love dies, you don’t say farewell once. You say it every day. It takes a lifetime to comes to term with the idea that life ends. Maybe we never ever do. So here’s to Mum. Faith. Beautiful soul and beloved mumma.
And here’s to you; to your grief, for your love.
For all those lost to us that we love.
I hope this song brings you solace, medicine, and healing for the troubles in your heart.
Okay, so the hair might be a tad distracting. Stop looking. Close your eyes and listen to that voice. Wow, just wow.