This morning as I sat at the school assembly watching my little man struggle through his performance, I was drawn to the observers in the room. Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers… And oddly, an empty seat, next to me. I imagined that you were sitting there, smile beaming, exuding pride, giving your grandson that reassuring look that he was doing a great job. I so wish it were possible. You should have been there. You deserved to be there. He would have loved to see you. I know he would actually really love to meet you!
That empty chair keeps appearing… You’d think 10 years on it would be camouflaged by other people, and I wouldn’t still feel the true impact of you not being here but I do.
Perhaps it’s due to the time of year. The festive season is upon us. A time of love and togetherness, which is wonderful, except, often when you are reminded of the people that you can’t bring together. Such as me and you.
Most of the time I am just honestly ‘winging it’ as a 40+ woman and mother and wife and friend. I honestly have no idea what I am doing a lot of the time. Womanhood and Motherhood are so seasonal. Some seasons are lovely and calm, others, not so much. So often I wish I could bounce my thoughts and ideas off you. I wish so much that we could have made a book full of all of your wisdom, before you departed this world, just to help carry me through this phase of my life. I imagine by now it would be in tatters. Often wearing the brunt of my tears, both of joy and sorrow and stained by cups of tea, or wine, whatever the challenge or season demanded.
Maybe I am paying more attention lately or perhaps I am just missing you more. Perhaps it is a season of imbalance… I keep smelling your perfume. I am more aware of women with greying hair who resemble what I imagine you would look like now. I often catch myself stopping at the photos in our home and staring at them, allowing myself to go back to when they were taken. It’s a process and it can hurt. I can become teary. I’m no longer afraid to allow the emotions to rise. I sit in stillness and remember your voice, your laugh, the ’tsk tsk’ sound you made whilst knitting and disagreeing with the world affairs… Time has allowed me to go to that place in my heart that is still and always will be somewhat vulnerable.
Mum, I have made peace with your passing, but that never actually heals the underlying pain. It’s odd that there is an assumption of grief having completely passed once a number of years go by. Is this the view made only by those who are yet to love and lose? Grief is so dependant on moments in time. Some days it lives deep within and takes up space in our soul and some days it may only be burrowed in the tips of our little finger. No matter the day, it is always there, no matter the circumstance, it reminds us that we are no longer who we were before we experienced devastating loss.
Mum, I speak to you often. I do so to keep the connection alive. I still feel you in those times when I need you. I imagine you are either giving me a big boost of confidence or a stern talking to, depending on the situation and my approach. I live every day with you in my thoughts at some time or another, a ‘habit’ or however it be explained that I imagine will never dissolve, thankfully. I often chuckle at the thought of what you must think of the current 21st century. I do wonder if you would have been a Nanny with her phone out capturing the school performance earlier today or would you have just soaked it up with your beautiful hazel eyes, slightly welling as mine did and a bursting feeling in your heart. I get teary thinking about it. But in a nice, ‘warmth in my heart’ kind of way…
Perhaps you were on that empty seat and I just couldn’t see you. Maybe that explains the premise behind this letter I write today. I hope you were.
I love you and I miss you.
Your daughter, Leigh x