It’s not really been a bad week, we put the Christmas decorations up the other day and they look lovely. Everyone is relatively well at the moment, we have lots to look forward to before Christmas and even an exciting weekend ahead. However, the past day or two I’ve been feeling quite melancholy.
It’s around this time of year that I start missing my mum the most. It’s the time of year when it all began. Back in 2008 my mum was taken into hospital on 30th November, on the 11th December we heard the words that no-one wants to hear, ever, terminal cancer.
I’d always been close to my mum but there was always someone who needed her more than me, either my younger brother, my step-dad or my nan. I was never number one, but I accepted that and tried not to give her too much hassle, we had a nice relationship and were always able to talk about anything. When I was 19 I told her I was getting married. My older brothers had got married young so it wasn’t that unusual. She didn’t fully approve but instead of going against me she did her best to make my wedding as special as possible. I don’t think I’d have been able to have planned it like she did.
Mum always loved Christmas, and I always loved spending time at Christmas with my mum. It was always a fun family time full of fun and food, from making our own decorations to baking delicious mince pies. She always made it real special. It was harder after nan passed away but we still tried. It was while before we had a big family party but we had to celebrate the new millennium in style.
That’s the night things started to go wrong. Two days later I had a falling out with my mum and we didn’t speak to each other for five years. I think this was one of the toughest times in my life. I’d just split with my husband, I had two children, one had just received a diagnosis I’d not expected, the other had suffered a trauma, and I was trying to hold down a full time job while being a single mum. How could I do all this without my mum’s support. For the next two years lots of horrible stuff happened but I survived. I also found a new partner.
I started speaking to mum again when I was expecting Star. It started with a card that I gave to my auntie to pass on. (It was so bad I didn’t even know where she lived!) Then I received a letter in reply. (Which I still have.) It took nearly nine months for us to get to the stage of seeing each other and a further two years to seeing each other on a regular basis. Even then we had bars on certain conversations. I can’t talk about what happened, but for the record neither of us had done anything wrong, we’d just taken sides with others. She’d sided with someone who needed her more than me, and I’d sided with someone who needed me more than her.
2008 was going to be our first Christmas together since the turn of the century. We’d repaired our relationship to the stage where we were able to share this special day together again. We’d made plans on what we were going to do, what food we were going to buy, even what tv programs we were looking forward to.The previous Christmas I’d called her on the day, this year I was going to see her. As soon as they appeared I picked up as many of the shops Christmas catalogues as I could and we browsed them together. We wrote lists, lots of lists.
I did spend the day with her, but it wasn’t how we had planned.
When the Doctor told us it was cancer we wanted to know what the treatment was, when it would start. The Doctor said there was nothing they could do but make her comfortable and that she only had weeks left. It was only 13 days to Christmas, our first Christmas together in 8 years.
Mum wanted to go home immediately.
I took her.
She wasn’t home for long, my older brother decided she’d be better cared for in a hospice.
Christmas morning came. I had two little girls then, Boo was just a year old and Star was three. They opened their presents and I put them in pretty dresses and we rushed off to visit nanny. I had to spend Christmas with her, we hadn’t spent Christmas together for so long and it was going to be our last one. Our last Christmas.
We walked into her room and I immediately got Dad to take the girls out again. They went to play in the relatives room.
I sat by mum. She was asleep. She didn’t wake up. I spent my last Christmas with my mum while she slept.
I said goodbye to my mum on that last Christmas Day together.
Before my mum was laid to rest I endured a second bereavement that Christmas. Someone that needed her more than I had ever done but I’m not ready to share that story.
Seven years later and the pain eases, but never goes away. Some days I feel it’s all I have left. Some days I enjoy the happy memories instead. Grief never leaves you, but then neither does love.
I miss my mum and I feel robbed of that last Christmas together, but at least I had the chance to be with her.