Today, you have been gone for 14 years. Today, I’ve been without you for longer than I had you. You’re half a life away now, and the rest still to go. For the first 14 years of my life, it was so incredibly easy to take for granted your presence in it. To never envisage a time when you might not be there. Even through the illness. Even, for a time, after you’d gone. I remember when that reality struck. The realisation that I was now motherless. I started my period only weeks after I’d lost you and I didn’t know what to do! You weren’t there to ask. Such a trivial thing, but I think that that was the moment I began to realise just how different my life was going to be without you in it.
I have a handful of memories, of moments that we shared in those first 14 years. Beans on toast at number 4; acquiring a baby sister; numerous escapee hamsters (!), but they seem so few now, compared to the moments that you’ve missed since then. My first forays into the world of “boys”; perhaps not studying as much as I should have for my A Levels; graduating (I studied a bit harder for that); shopping for my wedding dress; watching me get married; getting to know your beautiful grandchildren.
I don’t want you to worry. I haven’t been alone. I’ve had a queue of people there for me if I needed them. I’m lucky in the friends and the family that I still have. But there have been times (and I’m sure there will be more to come) when I have needed you. When I’ve just needed my mum. A need so visceral that sometimes it’s as though I’ve lost you all over again. Those are the times that have shaped me. Like learning to live without a limb. Moulding your life around the empty space that’s been left and knowing that it will never be quite the same. There will always be something missing.
If I can impart any wisdom on this post, it would be this. Always appreciate the little moments. It doesn’t matter how old you are,how grown up you are, how independent you think you’ve become. There will still be times when you, the child, will need your parents. Maybe you’ll need a babysitter; a lift; or a loan. Maybe you’ll want to call your mum for a chat after work; or get your dad around to mount the tv on the wall (right, Dad?). And it’s hard to realise the importance of these moments in the everyday. It’s hard not to take them for granted. But there will come a day when they are no longer there to share them with you. Appreciate them now. One day it might be too late.