Live your Life, live your life, live your life…
Over the eleven years that I have been a Mummy, Mark has been notoriously bad at supervising the gift buying for Mothers Day on our son’s behalf. Though he does spectacularly well on birthdays and at Christmas, for a reason I have never been able to fathom, Mothers Day holds no weight with him and gifts are normally no more than a token gesture. In fact last year he bought me a garden gnome stuffed with flowers and in matters of bad taste I usually find that I simply have no words.
This year I do believe my entire family worried that what would be a difficult Mothering Sunday altogether might just be exasperated by another garden gnome and so on Sunday morning my sister Helen took Finley out and together they chose a darling collection of little somethings for me, including the book above, Nourish, a gorgeous collaboration between Sadie Frost, Amber Rose and Holly Davidson and 642 Things to Write About, which will hopefully kick start my ability to write something meaningful all over again. Helen who knows me inside out and summed up in two books exactly what I need to keep on keeping on. Helen who has a heart full of her own pain and still worries so very much about mine
But Mark is above all else a good man. Despite everything he remains my best friend and my whole family appreciates and respects our relationship to such a degree that he was one of the the bearers carrying Mum’s coffin into the crematorium. He is scatty and a little bit bonkers but he recognises what matters and on Sunday arrived bearing a flower sprinkled gift bag. Inside there was a bottle of Prosecco, chocolates, socks, yellow tulips and right at the bottom of the box a little jewellery box with a silver locket in which to put a photograph of my Mum into and carry her close to my heart for always.
When he gets it right, he gets it so very, very right. What a gift it is to still have his friendship after all these years. What a gift family, and those who become our family, really are.
The funeral was achingly simple. We stripped away the superflous until there was only all those we loved lining up to lay daffodils and freesia around my Mums coffin, a reading of This Life Mattered and Helen and I stood together reading out our memories.
And so it begins: life without my Mum. A new normal that must exist to honour all that she was and all that we will become.
I am different now. I tread carefully. Hushed. Afraid to wake her from her big sleep. For she is asleep. I have seen her. I have twisted the wedding ring around her finger and straightened the cross she is wearing around her neck. She was always tired and now I see that sleep has taken her and cannot let her go.
When I was pregnant with Finley I was consumed by this invisible child inside me. I did not know him. Could not imagine who he would be but the journey to Motherhood was an all-encompassing one. Though I moved through my days doing everything that had to be done, those nine months were other-worldly. All animation suspended as I, like all the Mothers before me brought a life in to being. That my Mum’s death should have parallels to my son’s birth has astonished me. Though my belly is full not with a child, but with the persistent flutter of grief, the sensation is eerily similar. As if I have been consumed by her as I was with Finley. Though I do not need to lose hours lost in wondering who she was, the way I wondered who he would be, I am full of her. Full of the same yearning. For him to arrive and for her to come back.
Her death now though has become a fact. There is no longer any sense of dis-belief. She is gone. I feel the weight of grief upon my shoulders and I am allowing it to slow me down. But I cannot cry. I worry that it is making me look cold: as if I have pulled on sorrow’s coat but have chosen to accessorise it with a clown’s mask. I am in fact bizarrely jolly in a way that must I think, seem quite inappropriate. While the rest of the family seep tears in front of all those the infrastructure of our society provides to see us through the horror of burying a loved one, I beam at them, smiling as I nod at at all that they say and reassure them that all is quite well and their help is so very much appreciated, and I cannot thank them enough and I laugh loudly and get my head stuck in my jumper in the funeral parlour and tell the sleeping soul that is my mum jokes about the baby and the dog as I stroke her face and wonder out loud at how kind death is to the dead and how it is possible that she should be lying there looking twenty years younger and equally as beautiful as the very last time I saw her.
I am practical and efficient. Calm and comical at turn. Where I once considered myself to be sentimental I am now astonished to note that objects have no meaning to me. I do not weep over the clothes so treasured that still hang in her wardrobe or find pathos in the unfinished jumper in her knitting bag. I did not sob as I sat alone, registering my Mothers death with the same woman who once registered the marriage I did not have. I do not find meaning in everything she touched at home, nor feel precious about all that she once owned. I do not cry over her, but if I was capable, if only someone would turn the tap on, I would cry for her. Because it simply isn’t fair that she isn’t here. It isn’t ok that she has left us to go on without her.
I had not anticipated this kind of quiet rage. In fact there is so very much about my Mum’s death I had not expected. I am irritated by the living. Cross with those who still have their Mums. Outraged by the cheek of those Mothers with the nerve to still be alive when mine is gone! And then there is the urge to tell everyone I meet. For I cannot abide the world going on without knowing that she isn’t in it any more. That the world is a lesser place without her.
Death then, isn’t the way I feared it was. It is darker and more beautiful. Even missing her is not what I imagined it would be. It is not the primitive visceral terror of the child not in your eye-line. But something far more complicated, and wildly exasperated by the energy of the dead still pulsing in your own veins. Where once she was beyond me, now she exists inside of me.
In the words of E.E.Cummings, I carry her heart with me (I carry it in my heart).
Death is nothing at all. It really is nothing at all.
There are things no-one tell you about death. They do not tell you how still it makes you inside. They do not tell you how it will feel to hold your beautiful Mums face in your hands, while you try to ignore how unnatural it feels to touch such ice cold flesh. They do not say that the blood will pool under her skin. That she will still be smiling even after death. They do not say that the man who guides you in to the chapel of rest the following day will cry silent tears with you and the policeman sent to see you and your Dad in hospital will be clumsy and stupid as he tries to establish the cause of the bruise on her neck where those stern paramedics pumped adrenaline into her veins as she lay dying, or perhaps already gone, on her own bedroom floor.
For it is true. My Mum has gone. My Mum has gone. My Mum has gone. My Mum has gone.
I want to write it in the sky. I want to scream NO at the top of my voice. I want to tell each stranger I see in the street. To tell them how very unfair it is that we are alive and she is not. But I have had to tell so many people. Delivered nightmarish phone-calls to my own sister and my Mums sister. I have sat in my Mum’s conservatory listening to her hairdresser (of all people) shout NO into the phone. Over and over again. I have told her friends and when they became inconsolable, calmly asked to speak to their husbands and instead, explained what happened, to them.
I don’t know why I am writing today. I wasn’t sure I could. I was scared she might have taken my words with her. But even though as I type, real tears are finally flowing, this is what I needed to do today because I know no other way to pour out my grief. To make sense of something so utterly ridiculous. I know no other way because the only alternative is to phone her and I can’t be sure she will take my call in heaven. The only alternative to writing is to call her and tell her my head hurts, that I have slept with Dad in her living room for the past two nights, both of us taking a sofa each. That he has whimpered in his sleep and he is worried about never understanding the washing machine. There is still so much to say you see? Children to be grown without her guiding hand. Thank you’s to be whispered over and over again. A garden she didn’t get to enjoy because Summer didn’t come soon enough.
I am scared to miss her. I do not know whether to be angry. I am so very wide awake. And Finley. My little boy. A boy who could not leave the room without giving his Nana the seven kisses she always demanded of him. When I told him, in the early evening of the day she died that she was gone, he put his hands over his ears for a moment and then told me that he needed to get back to playing with Eleanor and that my darling Kath had made him sausages for his tea and he wanted to eat them before we went to stand in the midst of my entire family, grouped together in her kitchen without our beating heart.
I am scared to be without her. This is the first blog post I have ever written that she will not read. I do not know what words will flow out of me in all my tomorrows without her presence to censor everything that is ridiculous about me. I do not know if the sight of her on her bedroom floor will ever leave me. Her eyes wide open. Whether it was right to tell the man at the hospital not to wash her freshly blown hair because she wouldn’t like it if it was frizzy. That we wouldn’t recognise her and that for all the days in-between her death and her burial Dad and I will go and stroke her face and tell her stories and that while we are doing that, we need to still recognise her. To still be able to find her under her red velvet blanket.
This then is a love story. Like all the women in her family before, my Mum has died in her early sixties. (Stolen. Kidnapped. Taken). Still so very beautiful. For only the very, very beautiful die young don’t they? She was, as you know, both my best friend and my fiercest critic. She was everything I am and so many wonderful things I am not. She was my Fridays. My partner in crime. My closest confidante.My most feared opponent. She was my good morning and my goodnight.
My Mum is gone. My Mum. Italics are not enough enough to make it clear how absolutely ludicrous that sentence feels to me.
Night night Momma. No-one will ever again love me like you did and I will never again love with same fury, certainty and gratitude.
Darlings I am on adventure today and I need your help on Instagram!
If you could like my posts today on my feed (@brocantehome) I will love you forever!
Update: thanks to all those of you who helped I am delighted to say that I came second in a bloggers competition today and will be taking a little trip to Edinburgh courtesy of Ibis Styles Hotels.
I will tell you all about it on Monday, when I have recovered from dashing around Liverpool instagramming everything standing still!
I am rather loathe to show you this because I cannot fathom how you can easily order it for yourself should you so desire, but it is so lovely I really cannot resist regardless…
If ever there was a wonderful gift buyer, my sister Helen is she. Working in Soho, just a heartbeat away from Liberty as she does, and combining easy access to the most utterly scrumptious shops in London, with her own exquisite taste, makes Christmas morning blissful not only because Santa is always so very good to me, but because in among all my other lovely gifts will be a stack of the most darling of wrapped presents from Helen.
This year alongside a cloche jar I have long been coveting, this book (heartily recommended by me!), and a happy little collection of rabbit themed gifts, I received this anonymous looking plain white backed book resplendent with folded pieces of wrapping paper in the loveliest of patterns. It is quite the most useful book ever, with a collection of labels and tags at the back in muted, understated designs…
Though I have found the manufactures on-line store, I am pretty certain Helen didn’t pop over to Singapore to acquire this little bit of Spring Come Rain Fall organised heaven for me and as she is too busy to harass with questions today, I find myself rather stumped as to where it came from and thus I do believe this post could be akin to showing off something rather lovely…
I do apologise. Showing off is so very rarely my thing…