I wonder if I’ll ever come to terms with the fact that you aren’t here anymore. Will I ever be comfortable when September comes around and brings another year without you to a close? Is it weird that I consider September the start of the new year?
Today is your 56th birthday and tomorrow marks two years without you. It’s been two years but you still play just as active part in my life as you did before you passed away. Your words still swirl around my head and in my dreams. Most noticeably, when you used to say “We have standards”. My goodness, that used to annoy me so much! “How can you be such a snob!?” is what I used say to you. I recall a few arguments we had when you would say that overused line in response to me wearing a cheap pair of scuffed shoes because they weren’t real leather and looked tatty. How could you be so superficial (?), is what I used to think. But now I understand what you were trying to teach me.
The last year was somewhat lonely, but absolutely necessary. I’ve learnt a lot about dealing with my grief away from everyone and everything we knew in Devon. I’ve also been learning how to manage my grief during a pandemic (which is something I don’t think any of us expected for 2020).
I think the whole world is left a little dumbfounded by the events that 2020 has been witness to. For nearly half of the year we were locked down, but it meant that Evee and I were lucky enough to hide away in Southampton together. It also meant that I was put on furlough – something that I will forever be grateful for.
So much of our life experience is based on doing that we rarely get a chance to simple be. But, for two months of the year I had the chance to completely wind down and reflect on my options for my next move. All I knew was that I was not happy in my job.
So, I sowed a few seeds and come the end of furlough I had three possible paths that life could take me (including a one way ticket abroad that cost me £10 … perhaps not the most intelligent move what with the current climate, but the price!?)…
Regardless of what option I chose to take I learnt that the ultimate act of self love is giving up on something that no longer serves you because, as you say, “we have standards”. I haven’t worked as hard as I have worked, or struggled as much as I have struggled in my life to spend the rest of it behind a computer screen for up to 12 hours a day. No thank you, because I have standards. You taught me to never settle with the company I keep, nor the life path I find myself on. So, I quit the job that I hated so much – the ultimate act of self love.
Do you remember that quiz I took late one night to find out the “perfect career” for me? We laughed because the thought of me being a police officer is just absurd and quite frankly, dangerous. Well, as I said, I did sew a few seeds during furlough and I’ve finally figured out what I am going to do with my life and, finally, it makes sense!
Within a day of leaving work, I was given the opportunity to start a whole new career path within the NHS! I’m really going to help people. I know you’d be so excited for me, Mum. You’d throw your head back and say “Why didn’t we think of that sooner!?” You’d be so knowledgable about it too. Goodness, the conversations we would have had.
Within a week of leaving work, Evee and I also launched our first grief cafe. I am so immensely proud of the steps we are taking. Every ticket was reserved and people came together to share the pain and talk about the grief that comes with losing their person, the way that we lost you. It was emotional, but it wasn’t sad. It was empowering.
Within two weeks of leaving work, I drove five hours to a city I’ve never been to, to move into a house I had never even seen, to start training and studying for my my new career.
And, within two years of losing you, I can finally look people in the eye and tell them that I am happy. And for the first time, in two years without you, I’m not lying. My heart is happy.
Before, I always felt so much pressure to try to rebuild the Katie I was when you were around. Today, I am so much more than that younger Katie. Do you remember when I met you in Cardiff and you walked straight passed me? You had to do a double take when I called after you. You didn’t recognise me because I had cut myself a fringe the night before. I pretended to be insulted but it was funny more than anything. Well, I haven’t given myself a haircut this time, the change is completely internal, but I feel unrecognisable.
I’ll never get over losing you, Mum. But I’ll take you with me always.
I’ve mentioned before how I have called the last year my “purification” phase. I stood alone, because that what I needed to do. But I am closing that chapter now, and I am starting a new one. And, the title of this new life chapter is “Happiness”. I’m really excited about it.
So Happy 21st Birthday again to you, Mum! And Happy New year. Thank you for teaching me to never settle with the company I keep, nor the path I find myself on, because “we have standards” and mediocre just won’t do.
I’m on the verge of something really big, Mum. I just wish I could show you, but more often than not, I think it’s you who is still showing me.
I celebrate you today and every day, always