Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

by Sian Rodgers 4 months ago in grief

How do you measure a year?

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes

There are just seven days until the first anniversary of my mum's death. A week. It's nothing really. And yet July 15 is looming. I have that day off work. Perhaps I'll feel fine and be functional, but there's also a real probability I'll end up stuck in bed. And to be missing that person in my life, who would just arrive at my front door and say, "we're doing this today, you're going to be okay," means I don't know what to do.

It's been a weird year. After mum died I fought to keep her house, eventually convincing the landlord to give me a year to find a new place and clear out my mum's possessions. Breathing space.

The money stopped. My Carers Allowance no longer existed and two weeks after my mum's death I was expected to be at the job centre, looking for work, putting on a brave face, and filling out forms. I could barely remember to eat. I had no income, and was relying on handouts to kept above water.

So there I was, looking for a new house, for a job, and putting the final touches on my mum's funeral and estate. Alone.

One of the biggest shocks for me was the lack of people. My mum lived in her village for over 20 years. She was on the Parish council, show committee, she ran brownies, guides, youth group. And yet when the worst happened, no one came, no one asked, no one checked in.

It's a shit thing to go through, it's even shittier when you find yourself alone, holding it together because you have to. Because of this, I still don't feel I've allowed myself to grieve fully, because something always has to be managed. I have anger about that. I haven't ever had the luxury of vanishing for two weeks to just wallow.

Our birthdays are close together, something I struggle with, as we often did a joint experience. Christmas and new year's alone is something I never wish on anyone, and something I am dreading this year.

Those who knew my Mum will know how close we were. It's left a huge void. It'll probably never feel filled. No one to just ask "hey, how's your new job going?" no one who cares who I'm dating, if I'm dating. No random videos in my email of something bizarre she found, but thought I might find interesting. It's unlikely I will ever have anyone in my life who wants me to succeed and win as she did. I need to make peace with that.

I still do see, hear, or learn something, and it's a reflex to want to tell her. Sometimes I think I see her in a shop or smell her perfume. For a moment your gut sinks. I need her advice or her viewpoint often. I need her words to get me across the finish line, or talk me off a ledge. I never had to ask for her help. She just knew and just gave it. Sometimes this past year I've done nothing but scream for help, publicly too, and its been ignored. I never had to ask with her. She just checked in randomly, knowing. I miss that.

And through all of this, I've had to armour up, find a new house, move into it, decorate it, find a job, deal with more than I often feel I have the capacity for. It's a weird feeling, flying without a net, going without a support system, turning a page to a new chapter while simultaneously not being able to close the other. It has, at times been quite exhilarating, but also you know, scary.

For a while I thought I'd found someone who cared, ask him now and I think he'd say he did, and for a time it was great. Someone got me, held me up, and helped me move forward. He was my cheerleader, a cuddle, a kiss when I needed it, my way back to intimacy. But things change and it turned into a nightmare of abuse and confusion, a destruction of my already fragile feelings. I was left bouncing back from that too.

As the countdown begins to the dreaded anniversary, I find myself better. Not fixed, but I'm okay. New house in a new town has helped. I have a new job, I'm still financially in trouble, but it's better, I think I've met a few people who like me.

My Mum left two instructions: take her ashes to the Isle of Man, still working on that, and to find someone who truly loves me and makes me happy. Both of which feel like long shots, but l live in hope!

I've made it through this year on sheer determination. Bruised, lonely, a little frayed around the edges. The only positive being perhaps that I did make it on my own. Though fuck, if I know how.

Sian Rodgers
Sian Rodgers
Read next: Understanding the Effects of Addiction on the Family