A lot of things make me think of Mum. Dates don’t mean much to me; they didn’t to her, either. As each anniversary of my sister’s death passed by she used to say to me ‘it’s just another day. None of the days have her in it.’ And it was a powerful truth, and one I live with now: none of my days have either my twin sister, who died aged twelve, or my mother, who died five years ago today. The actual date is unimportant. Two years, three, five, six or twenty six; the years themselves mean nothing. None of my days have my mum.
Before she died, never a day went by without my speaking to her, sometimes by text, often in person (especially as we worked together for so long), or by phone. We always spoke. After she died, whenever my phone beeped, I couldn’t help thinking it was her. Sometimes when I awoke in hazy morning light, I forgot and could briefly pretend that it had all been a terrible dream. The diagnosis, the pain, the trauma of it all – it would briefly disappear, and I would think she was still here, drinking tea in her garden, surrounded by the beauty she had created.
But of course, she isn’t. When I saw this baby moving around on the twelve week scan, I realised this is the first of my children that she won’t know. She knew Noah for two and a half years and Ella for eighteen months. Noah remembers her, indistinctly, as the grandma who grew blueberries and strawberries in her garden, and who used to cut apples in half for him. Ella does not remember her at all, but she is there, my mum, in each of them. She can’t not be, because she made me who I am, and I see her every day in who they might become. She was fiery, Mum, impatient, quick, kind. She wasn’t always the easiest, but she always loved me beyond life itself.
And I can still feel it now, that love. It made me who I am. It made me sure of who I am, determined, strong. It made me the parent I am – one who loves my own children beyond life itself.
I only had my mum for thirty three years, and that seems so short, when I think of all she won’t know. But some people will never know or have the relationship like the one I had with her. I was lucky enough to have it for thirty three years. And what survives of her, always, is love.