61 isn’t that old. Not by today’s standards. In fact, for women, the age of retirement is no longer 60, it now matches the age of retirement for men. We often think that we have all the time in the world. And most of us don’t think of our own mortality until much later in life. I’ve thought about mine daily for as long as I can remember. Mostly because I’ve always had a death sentence over my head thanks to my heart condition. What I never thought about was your mortality. I never questioned that my mother would be there to watch me grow. Never asked if you would be there to watch my children grow up, if I a) lived long enough to have them, or b) decided to have them. I never worried about you being there for my graduation, or my wedding. Never pondered if you would be there to talk to about the myriad of things women talk to their mothers about. Not even when the M.E. and the Fibromyalgia left you exhausted and sat in your chair and me a teenager carer. I never ever questioned that you would just always be there. Even with everything he put us through, I still didn’t worry that you would be anything other than present.
But tomorrow, on what should have been your 61st birthday, like so many birthdays before, you won’t be there. In May it’ll be 16 years since I woke to that phone call that changed my life, the one that still feels as unreal as it did that day. No 18 year old should hear the words “Your mum died last night.” echo down the phone. The weight of them still sits heavily on my chest, as if an elephant is trying to cause my asthma to stir. It weighs on my arms and my legs, causing my own Fibro pains to shoot through me and burn at my muscles. There’s a hole in my heart that’s as small as you but as large as your heart. You may have only been 4 ft 11, but you had a heart that was 100 feet tall. And all of my friends who knew you whilst we were growing up would vouch for that. They all called you their second mum.
There’s not a day goes past that I don’t think of you. And I don’t think there will ever be a day that goes by that I don’t want to talk to you on the phone, or just hear you singing along to one of your CDs, just one last time. You may have been the most tone deaf person I have ever met, but the joy you had in singing made it music to my ears. I hope that Grandad will be celebrating with you tomorrow. I know you’ll both be driving each other crazy up there. But I also know the amount of love and affection you had for each other in life, behind the bravado. And I know that Uncle Tim will be looking out for his precious little sister. I often feel like Lee and I were robbed of our mother way too soon, but then I remember, we were so very blessed to have you in our lives for as long as we did. Goddess gave us someone special as a mum when She gave us you, because She gave us someone who wanted nothing more than to have children. And whilst you and I fought like cat and dog during my teenage years, and we both made mistakes along the way, I always knew, as I know now, your love for me is stronger than anything else. It’s why you’ve made sure that I have love in my life now that you’re gone.
I miss you, Mum. I always will. But I hope you know, I’m doing okay. And I’m so grateful that I’m loved by the people I have in my life whose unconditional love reminds me of yours.
Your Longed For Firstborn