Tuesday, 19 June 2012

21 Years

But it’s not time for a celebration.

Today marks 21 years since my mum passed away. 21 years and 2 days since I last saw her, hugged her and kissed her goodbye, 20 years and 364 days since her funeral.  It feels like it was just yesterday.
They say time heals all wounds.  They, whoever “they” be is probably right.  The 21 years have not been filled with nothing but sadness and grief.  They’ve been filled with wonderful times, loving times, happy times.  Time does heal.  But still, I can remember it like it was yesterday.

Mum & me
{Mum and me outside our house, ,1983}

I remember my brother’s teacher coming to get me out of class to take me to the reception where my brother was waiting for me.  I remember Audrey (mum’s friend and colleague) being there to meet us and take us to the hospital to see mum.  I remember being sad and upset on seeing her with so many machines attached to her ailing, yellowing body.  She hadn’t seemed that sick just one day before when she’d been readmitted.  I remember saying I wanted to go home.  I remember her saying we were all going home.  I remember dad and the nursing sister Gwen taking me for a walk and me coming back to see mum much calmer.  I think somewhere, somehow I knew that would be the last time I would see her.  I don't think knew that I knew that though.  I knew she was sick, very very sick. 
I remember a girl at school picking on my on the Tuesday for having left early on the Monday.  I remember being a snarky snide bitch to her as well (it started young apparently, that trait of mine.  She’d been saying it wasn’t fair that I got to leave early the day before and not do something and I apologised for having a dying mum to her and that I would have done the project if I didn’t).
I remember being at my best friend Malisa’s house and eating fish and chips and then creme caramel for dinner on the Wednesday with Simon and Malisa’s family.  I remember Dad turning up and saying she’d gone.  I remember not really getting it.  When he asked if I wanted to come home, I said I wanted to stay because I’d been promised I could stay over (and at nine, a sleepover on a school night is a treat (if only I knew!!)).  I remember not being able to sleep and asking Lizzie (Mal’s mum, also an oncology nurse at the hospital that tended to Mum) to take me home. 

I remember someone letting me in (either my aunty Carole or Nan, both were very present that week) home.  Dad was in Simon’s room (Simon, poor guy, had had a tummy bug or something and was poorly this entire time).  I remember Dad hugging me tight.  I remember being sick all over Simon’s floor as Dad hugged me a bit too tight.  And then the toilet.  I seemingly had the same bug as Simon had had. 
I remember I didn’t have to go to school on the Thursday.  I remember Dad and my Aunty (hi Carole!) taking Simon and I shopping for an outfit to wear to the funeral.  I don’t remember what I got. I think it might have been an dress with a floral skirt and black long-sleeved top but I’m not sure.  What do you wear to bury your mum when you are nine?  I remember a constant stream of visitors and food.  I remember our reverend being there a lot. I remember telling Dad I wanted everyone to leave.
I remember going to the church in a Rolls Royce.  I remember crying a lot.  I remember the songs.  I remember my Uncle’s Eulogy, Chalk and Cheese.  I remember standing in the car park afterwards, stunned, and having everyone hugging me.  I remember feeling suffocated.  I remember my school principal giving me a kiss on the cheek.  I remember laughing with Malisa that Mrs McKee had kissed me and Simon and how we now had teacher germs.  I remember my cousins being there.  Lots of them. 
I remember refusing to go to the crematorium for her burial. I remember people telling Dad I had to go.  I remember Dad sticking up for me and asking Lizzie if I could ride with them home, for the wake.  I remember Malisa pretty much being my security blanket that day.  I remember ladies (Lizzie, neighbours, parent committee members etc) getting everything ready for the wake. 

I remember letting of a stink bomb in my nan’s suitcase (she was staying in my room).  I remember being egged on by my cousins.  I remember not getting in any trouble for it either.
I remember people slowly leaving and then it was us.  My family.  Dad, Simon and I.  Our new normal.
Mums memorial
{her memorial plaque at the crematorium.  The quote is an adaption of a
poem by Joyce Grenfell, By Herself and Her Friends}

Of course, it didn’t stay just us and we were never alone, receiving a lot of love, support and friendship from all those in our lives. 

Update:  It was actually Aunty Carole that collected us from school.  In her words, it was the hardest thing she's ever had to do.

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