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Speaking Into The Ether

by AM about a month ago in grief
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The Confessions I Would Make to my Mum

Speaking Into The Ether
Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

Dear Mummy,

You’ve been gone a long time. Far too long in my opinion. But that’s the weird thing about life and death isn’t it? There is not enough time in life; we will always say that we wish we could have longer with our loved ones before they depart. Yet when the time does indeed arrive, the aftermath seems to last far beyond what seems bearable; there is too much time in death. That’s my takeaway from the past 13 years without you anyway.

I’m writing this to you because you’ve been on my mind more and more. It’s strange that to me, you are crystallised as a memory at a fixed moment in time. You were my mother and in my eyes, you might always be in your early fifties, with coarse and silky black hair, your round thick glasses and your kind smile (something I know was one of your most defined features). As much as you were my mother however, I feel a sense of sadness and regret that I didn’t have enough time to know you as a person. To this day, I don't know your story. What were your dreams and aspirations when you were young? What were those moments or events that changed things forever? Is there a story behind why you like robin birds so much and the colour red?

While all of these questions cannot be answered, all of our shared memories have come flooding back into my brain recently. Pouring around the crevices of my soul with all of the emotions you could imagine - nostalgia, happiness, sadness and pain. All tumbled into one sepia toned memory of a summer’s day picking fruit or something. It’s strange because I hadn’t realised how little I had avoided to think of you during the thirteen years prior to this letter here... That’s my second confession.

By Dominik Kempf on Unsplash

I guess all of these confessions are a mix between sharing my life with you in a way only a mother and daughter could. Even though you're gone, something I’ve realised is that the mother daughter bond is a truly unique one. It’s a safe space to call home when you’re crying your eyes out and a mother embraces you, maybe not quite knowing what to say but holding an unshakeable presence and being there in an unmovable way. At six, you embraced me while I was bawling my eyes out after my brothers teased me mercilessly. At twenty three, who knows why we would be embracing. I know it’s something I’ll never know, but in my heart of hearts, it’s something I eternally search for.

I’ve looked for you in ways that haven’t been clear to me until now. Relationships, friends, work, studies - I’ll throw myself all in just to maybe try and feel whole as a person. Even with the perfect synthesis of all of these elements, I feel I’ve always fell a little short of the mark. I have no idea if you’d be proud of some of the choices I made. Actually, I know with near certainty that you wouldn’t. I definitely didn’t date the right people sometimes, I have been selfish more times than I can count, made silly decisions... Everything you'd expect from a human. I know you'd say it is indeed human nature to be imperfect, but the truth is, I really don’t know if I’m a good person. The origin of this, I believe, is because of my biggest confession to you.

By lilartsy on Unsplash

I don’t think I’m a good person because I never said goodbye to you. It’s truly my deepest regret and still resides deep in my core. As I've been told, you passed away peacefully on a Sunday morning where sun shone bright and it streamed into your room at the hospice. And in your final moments, it was just you and father. I don’t know what words were exchanged or exactly how it happened, but from my understanding it was a tender moment. You could whisper your final wishes and your worries, knowing all the while that the final grains of sand were slipping through the hourglass.

Maybe it’s better that I didn’t see, but my biggest regret is that we didn’t share a final moment. I was ten so who knows what I’d say, but I wish that I had one last memory to hold onto with you. A final embrace, even if there were no words. Thirteen years on, this is still something that keeps me up at night. I desperately search for our final moment only to find I’m in the dark. Many moments blur into one, but there’s no defining core memory. Still, I can hold hope that, no matter how fragmented, I have some memories of our last interactions.

Perhaps that’s life, hey? There’s no single moment - it’s just a collection of the small moments that can be strung together and replayed back as a grainy film where the plot line changes with time and perspective - I’m learning to be okay with that.

By Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

I found the first ten years after you hard. I don’t know why I held the number ten as some kind of magical number. Perhaps I thought of it like a test. If I could make it through the first ten years without you, then I’d have passed and that somehow you’d come back. A twenty something year old’s sense of logic knows this is impossible, but a ten year old’s heart just clung onto the hope that this wasn’t the end.

But I know it's not the end. Sometimes you appear in my dreams, and in those dreams, we’re doing the most mundane of things - driving in a car, walking on a green, sitting in our house. Yet I am at peace - I am home. I hate that somewhere within the dream, I become lucid and aware that it is just that - a dream. It’s not real and you’re not there. There is a distinct bittersweetness to this, but it's better than not seeing you at all.

With all of this, I imagine that you’d tell me to cheer up and be strong. Not in a patronising way, but you’d draw my attention to the fact that many little boys and girls lost their parents in far worse circumstances and were left much more bereft as a result. You were always intuitively aware of the greater world around you - a gift I suspect (or hope) you may have passed onto me. And as an adult, I’d respectfully understand the point you were trying to make. It’s true, I had a good situation I still have a wonderful father and wider family, I am able bodied, and I’m lucky to experience things like love, happiness, friendship and success. Yet a small voice inside me wants to scream in tears, “but it’s not fair.”

I suspect I still wrestle with this small voice inside me. I think that we all have one. The voice of a past us, a childlike us whose voice whispers our needs, wants and fears. I know it’s my job to take care of the small voice inside me. I know that you’d apologise that you couldn’t take more care of me... I recall something about you crying and saying, “She’s ten. She’s too young," but I want to tell you something.

You did everything you could and more. You showed me unconditional love. You were my rock. You were the person I looked up to the most and the person I loved the most. You were the one to me. You were my best friend. See, some people aren’t so lucky to have had a mother like you. I’m biased of course, but you were the best. You were truly magnificent and a real angel on Earth. You gave your all for us and I wish that we could’ve taken better care of you. You were the bedrock of our family and kept us together and never asked for anything in return. You gave with no expectation and I think that’s a rarity in this world. I know that you’d say you wouldn’t change a thing, a maybe that is what a mother is - I am yet to know. All I know is that you were a truly phenomenal woman, with a gentle strength and a heart as pure as untouched snow.

By Marcel Ardivan on Unsplash

As I move through these next stages of life, I sometimes have no idea how I'll do it. But I will try with every ounce to make it. I don’t think I pay enough gratitude to be alive. It’s a gratitude I owe a lot of to you, that’s for sure. Even though you’re not here, you left a legacy and the best of you breathes through all of us.

When I look to the future, I hope to have a family. I remember you saying that you would cherish spending time with your future grandchildren. I feel wretched sometimes that this dream of yours will never come to fruition - but who says that this earthly world around us is the only we are alive? Your life breathes through me, your stories, your wisdom and your soul. If I ever do have children, you’ll still live on inside them and they will know you, even if only on an imperceptible level.

On the subject of family, specifically fathers, thank you. Thank you for choosing to make a life and a family with him. We’ve gotten to be each other’s rock over the years and gosh, he is an incredible man. It took a long time for him to heal and for his rough edges to soften, but when I see him now, I see a truly remarkable man. He's been through a lot and I think it’s a testament to his will and strength that he’s still here today. He has a head full of grey hair and is smaller in stature now, but his spirit and youthfulness retain. I know he misses you and thinks of you still. He actually picked up coin and stamp collecting recently because he found your old collections. It's a hobby of his I know, but I have a sense that he wanted some way to be connected to you. Before you passed, I know that you asked him to take care of my brothers and me. I want to write to you now to tell you he kept so good on his promise.

Is it bad that I truly believe that one of the best things to come out of all of this was him? I’ve gotten to know him more and I find that he is so much more than I could’ve ever expected. I love him with all my heart and as he considers this next phase in life and what lies after it, I know it’s my duty and wish to care for me the way he has for me. He’s been there through every twist and turn; every pain in my life - my depression, my first breakup, the first time I quit a job, or simply whenever I needed company. He has been there valiantly and asked for nothing in return. He says that he and you weren’t alike and if I’m honest, puts you on a pedestal sometimes. Not to say it’s not well earned, but I wish he could see that he bears those same qualities of kindness and ability to love as you.

By Parizan Studio on Unsplash

I will always be sad that I lost you. But I will always be grateful that it brought father and I closer together.

Before I say goodbye, I need you to know that we are all okay. I know that this would be your principle concern. You were always worrying for others and not yourself. Well, In these final words, I can tell you that we are okay. So, please don’t worry and enjoy the view from above.

If there is a Heaven, I’ll know you’re there. I know you’ll be patiently waiting, but not wanting any of us to rush to get to you. I wish for nothing more than to see you once again, but I shall give everything I have to make sure that I live this life. We will see each other again one day, but until then, rest in peace.

This is my goodbye to you. I love you,

By Kaushik Panchal on Unsplash

grief

About the author

AM

Psychology graduate who speaks on wellness, mental health, The Great Resignation and relationships.

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