If grief can be suspended I had managed it magnificently until now. If grief can be denied then I have been doing a fine job. But now it is December and my Mum is everywhere. In my head. In my dream diary. Browsing around my favorite stores, so I almost instinctively follow every blonde woman I see just in case she is merely in a parallel universe, simply unable to reach us.
Though my own tree is not yet up, last week I decorated my Dads with all the decorations my Mum had collected over the years. A poignant hour in which my Dad sat absolutely still with a headache and I let tears fall down my face as I found an ornament in the shape of a family tree, inscribed with all our names.
This Christmas hurts. I have become paralysed by it. Not enough presents bought yet. No tree here, for we will be moving into my Dad’s empty house next week and spending Christmas there, while he spends the holiday in my sister’s house down South, and as we need the house to be a blank canvas for potential buyers there didn’t seem any point in heading out to fetch a tree to stand alone in a cold empty house.
Truth is I do not know how to deal with this sudden rush of delayed grief. The old mainstays of extreme self-care seem to be failing me. No amount of words written on the page will bring her back. No baths scrumptiously scented with essential oils will turn back time. My laptop, my old friend, is suddenly something to be feared. Books no friends of mine at all. The doctor proffers sleeping tablets, Ste on permanent stand-by with hugs.
Perhaps this is all about change. On parents evening this week I was told by quite the kindest teachers in the world, that Finley isn’t coping. That it is clear that his Sensory Processing Disorder, so manageable in primary school is now a distinct barrier to his high school education: that they cannot read his writing, that he will need to work on a computer, that though he is a beautiful, intelligent child, he cannot keep still, he has reached new heights of dis-organization and his presentation is disastrous. Things will have to change if he is to succeed to his full potential.
Change. I am moving house.Ste will be moving in permanently. My lovely Finley will have to be carted back to occupational therapy and I have had to tell him that Santa doesn’t exist. Every other weekend I am a Step-Mum. A Mum without a Mum of my own. Every aspect of my life suddenly in need of a re-think at a time when I can barely think at all.
And so I think an absence of thinking might just be the way forward. A week or two off from the bossy, disappointed voices in my head. Recognition of and absorption in my sadness and permission finally granted to grieve. Closure on a year I could not live through again.
For this too will pass. Never again will I have to live through the first Christmas without my Mum, the last Christmas in a house I have loved for sixteen years.
And in the meantime I need to get on with creating a Christmas my new little family will adore. I may be a Mum without a Mum, but I am still a Mum and it is my job to get our very own little Christmas party started…