Mum died a year ago today. I was too busy today at work to mourn her passing. When I got home I sat in the bath with a glass of wine and tried to have a conversation with my mum. I tried and it didn't work, I need to write it out and so here I sit.
I miss you mum. This past year was hard, a year of firsts. My first Mother's Day without you, my first spring, my first birthday and lastly, my first Christmas ever without you. It's better than it was a year ago. I don't cry all the time. I don't cry every night when I got to bed. I don't hang up angry and frustrated with people on the phone. I don't want to rip anyone's head off.
In fact most days are good days. I can remember the good things that we had, supper on Sunday, walks in the river valley, knitting, having a cup of tea and of course jokes and laughter. You taught me without realizing it how to laugh, how to see the funny side of things and even how to tell jokes. You were my first audience. The rubber chicken that somebody gave you one Christmas still sits on the shelf beside my bed. That chicken reminds me of your sense of humor every time I see it.
If I am honest with myself, and I do try to be, I am thankful that you died. Thankful that you are no longer suffering. Thankful that you are no longer frightened. I know how scared you were of going completely blind, know how scared you were of being dependent on others for your care.
You were frightened of dying too I know, scared of a vengeful god. I told you that god doesn't work that way and I believe that. I don't believe any divine being would punish people for eternity. I believe that god, the divine, is about love, not about hate and retribution.
When I remember you, it's not how you were for that last year before you died, it's the you from a few years ago. The woman I went to England with, who got stuck trying to climb over Paul McCartney's fence, who laughed so much that you couldn't get off the fence without help. The woman I walked with down river valleys both here in in England. The woman who taught me how to garden and love birds, although you never convinced me to love roses.
But as I sat in the tub, I realized that I also mourn the mother I never had and maybe that's a normal part of grief. I never went to you asking for advice, nor did I want to share my troubles with you. Partly because you told the rest of the family and partly because I didn't respect how you dealt with conflict, all passive aggressive. Of course I do both of these things and of course I hate that I do them.
You were a great one to make a compliment sound like a criticism. I was always too loud, too aggressive, too much for you. Even as a middle aged woman, you would try to dampen down my spirits. I'm not sure why but you did. Actually that's not true, I know why you did it, you were always concerned with what others thought. I wish I'd had a mum who could have accepted me just as I am. I'm guessing you would have wanted the same from your mum, or mummy as you called her. I understand with my head that you could not give me what you had never been given yourself, but inside of me there is still a young girl who wants desperately to be accepted and loved.
You were a good mother. You taught me that family is first. You weren't perfect and maybe that's the greatest gift you gave me, the knowledge that we can love people despite their imperfections.