I am sitting on a coach. I’m returning home after a weekend away, and I feel tired, but light and happy. I feel my age, and my soul doesn’t feel so troubled.
Usually I listen to music on journeys; it’s one of my favourite things to do, but I don’t want to right now, I’m just enjoying the general chatter of the coach. I smile peacefully, watching the landscapes slip away, my eyes nodding shut every moment or so. It’s been such a long time since I could just relax like this, so long that I couldn’t even remember the word for it.
There is a little girl behind me. She kicks my chair occasionally, and talks quickly and excitedly to her mother. I can hear the smile in her mum’s voice. Her mum teases her for eating so much food; “but I’m just so hungry!” she says with her mouth full. “You’re always hungry!” I smile to myself, as they laugh loudly.
I look over my shoulder, but rather than see this little girl and her mum, I see myself and my own Mum.
My hair is short, in a bob, I’ve got chocolate around my face, and I’m looking up at my Mum with shining eyes. She also has short, light brown hair, and a necklace of a sun around her neck, that she always wore when I was younger. She says to me “But Evee, you’re always hungry!” Sometimes she would poke my belly and ask where I put all the food. Until now, I had forgotten about that.
When I was a child I always knew I could count on my Mum. She was my hero, and my best friend. She would always look after me, help me and guide me, and it strikes me that twelve, thirteen years later, I don’t have that. I feel loneliness settle on my shoulders like a cloak, and anger and sadness begins to ravage through my brain.
I quickly turn my head away, and I feel the air being pulled out of my body by a force much stronger than I. I reach for my rucksack with shaking hands, frantically trying to find my headphones. I can hear the maternal love enriching this stranger’s voice, and it’s too much for me. My broken heart twists painfully, like a bird with broken wings trying to fly.
I remember when Mum would ask me to come to her just so she could give me a hug. Oh God, what I would do to feel her embrace again. Or to see her smile and say she’s proud of me. Or for just a wink. A blink of her blue eyes. The memories are hitting me faster than I can process, it’s too much for me, but not enough at the same time.
Sometimes I feel like a ghost floating through life; I’m in the present, but I’m forever living in the past. There doesn’t seem to be a minute where Mum isn’t on my mind. I see her smile in strangers, or a scarf she would like, or a woman of a similar height with similar hair that, for one blissful moment, I think is her.
I remember walking behind her coffin, the air inside my lungs escaping too quickly, too fast for me to catch. I struggled to breathe as I did all too often back at this point in my life.
But then my thoughts turn to the future and I see myself at my graduation, my sister smiling proudly, but the missing Mum is obvious, heart breaking, and earth shattering. She should be there smiling excitedly, trying to get the perfect shot on her chunky camera.
I see myself even further in the future becoming a mother myself. One day, I will understand completely what Mum meant when she said “I would do anything for you. Nothing could get in my way.” She will never feel the weight of my child in her arms, and my child will never know their Grandma.
I try to force myself to calm down, I think “please don’t cry on a coach full of people”, but grief has no time, no limit, no moment that is out of bounds. I am lost and I am alone in a chaotic, busy world with no hiding places.
Previously, I have struggled with not being able to cry, but now, the tears fall without abandon, and I try to hold my breath to keep from whimpering. How has this happened to me? How did that little girl lose her Mummy?