This week just gone marked thirteen whole, entire, full, long years without my wonderful mum. Thirteen missed birthdays and Christmas’, countless forgotten shopping trips, hundreds of absent Sunday brunches, thousands of lost cuddles, kisses and I love you’s. And an infinite number of vanished conversations that should have contained wisdom, advice and reassurance.
In some ways I find that my grief does get easier as time goes by. I used to think that was because you can’t miss memories you never made. That’s a lie. Or maybe it’s because you forget what it was like to be near the person you’ve loved and lost? Also not true. Surely it must be because life moves on and you don’t find yourself “needing” them as much because you’ve learnt to live with their absence? More utter bollocks.
It might be that “easier” is the wrong word. I often find myself searching for the right word… but I’m never quite sure what that is. I’m looking for a word that helps me justify how I could possibly have survived graduation, being awarded with my masters, establishing a successful career, getting engaged, marrying my true love, buying houses, bringing our beloved puppy home and so many more adventures that are still yet to come without her by my side. Maybe such a word doesn’t exist.
As I grow a little older, and maybe a little wiser, I now realise that I haven’t really been without her at all. She taught me to be independent, to be bold, to be brave, to seek happiness, to make mistakes, to fight back. (Not to say “sorry” though, my dad taught me that one, for sure!) And I enjoy thinking of her more and more as the years roll on. I think of the woman I thought she was and the one I think she’d be now. I see less of the illness that consumed all of my teenage years (which is all I used to think about) and now focus much more on the good times.
For me grief isn’t easy, but I’m learning to cope. By redirecting more energy to celebrating the woman I knew, rather than being continuously angry at the disease that took so much from her, I’m no longer letting the illness overshadow her amazing existence in this world. That’s how I keep her alive and present in my daily life, which she would without a doubt, be endlessly proud of.