Trigger Warning- Topics containing cancer and treatments
Our mum was always a firm believer that there was “something bigger and better looking after us”. She would say this when good things happened like when I got into university. Or when a lymph node would be flagged up on a scan, early, and could be treated. The doctor always said it wasn’t curable, but it was treatable more like a chronic disease that she’d live with rather than die from -“Do you know, girls, I feel so lucky and proud of you? I really think there is something bigger and better looking after us.” Or when she’d finally arrive home after a spell in hospital. And I could finally tell her how scary it was when I was looking after her, that I was afraid she’d die right there and then.
After having such a painful couple of years faced with so much change, I have found it difficult to let go of the trauma and carry forward this mindset that she always instilled in us. My counsellor says that I have been in a hyper alert state of mind for a long time that I am waiting and ready to deal with the next bad thing.
It’s been hard letting go of 2018, all the pain that it brought us, and also not wanting to let go or forget our mum, as we have our first birthdays, Christmas, New Year without her. As the 2019 came around I just remember feeling broken, I didn’t want to enter a year that my mum wasn’t in.
It’s been scary taking on the new responsibilities that comes with my Master’s course without having my mum, my best friend to quash my insecurities and tell me “of course they’ll like you, they have no reason not to like you” or for her to say “I’m so proud of you” on my first day back. Now we have to be strong for ourselves and carry those beliefs in us and know that that’s what mum would say if she were here now. I am always slipping her into conversations: “My mum would say/do this” or “My mum loved that!”. Every day, I choose to trust that our mum made us strong enough to deal with this and I choose to believe that still, after everything, there is something bigger and better looking after us – perhaps even our mum is helping. There is still so much to be thankful for, I have my sister, my boyfriend, bloody good friends, my cats, a home and we all have our health.
Now that flashbacks have lessened and our general mood has lifted a little, I feel prepared and able to move forward. Do not be mistaken, I still get moments that feel like a punch to the stomach when I hear someone has the same ringtone as my mum in the office and for a moment, I am taken back to the darkest moments on a daily basis. But I know how to handle them now and have a few techniques to control them and bring me back to the present (which I hope to write a post about).
It’s been a long time since we have felt ready to accept the good things in life, so last week my boyfriend, sister and I went for a walk along the coast and we wrote a joint letter to the universe. It outlined the pain that each of us saw, how far we have come, and that we are prepared to accept all good things with open arms in 2019.
We rolled the letter up, put it in a bottle and had a good laugh when my boyfriend tried to throw it into the sea, but the waves repeatedly bought it right back to our feet. The effort was there though, and it meant a lot to us. I like to think that my mum was there belly laughing with us as well!
The whole experience felt really cathartic by letting go and learning to accept the pain of 2018, without letting go of our mum. It’s a small step, but it’s in the right direction. She would be so glad that we are still able to cry with guilt-free and wholesome laughter. She wouldn’t have it any other way.