Four Years. 1,460 Days. 35,040 hours. That’s how long it’s been since I heard my Mum’s voice. Since I was able to tell her about something happening in my life and hear her wise, guiding words.
Everything was always better when I could share it with Mum. We had an incredible connection. She knew that something was wrong with me as soon as she heard my voice on the phone. No matter how hard I tried to cover it, she knew, and she worried. If I was stressed, she knew it. If I was exhausted, she knew it. If I was sad, she knew it. Nearly all the time, she actually knew something was wrong before I spoke to her, that’s why she would call me. She’d just need to hear my voice to be able to know which one it was.
Then she’d listen as I’d go in to infinite detail about what it was that was the matter. Unless it was one of the times that I was having the emotion before I knew it. Then she understood that too. She’d listen intently and she had a knack of knowing when to say something and when to just let me vent. Often she would just say something little – plant a seed for me to think about and percolate before the path I needed to take would then be clear.
I know that it went the other way too. I could hear in her voice if something was wrong and nearly every time I spoke to her she would say “I was just thinking about you”. I’ve always thought that showed the level of connection and we always joked about us being Psychotic (a play on Psychic).
She had a very difficult time in the late 90s. She was bullied terribly in her job and she ended up going out on Workcover for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This meant that she often struggled with her mental state, even years later. She could sometimes get very wound up about things that I could see that she was misinterpreting and I would spend a lot of time trying to calm her and reassure her. She trusted me implicitly and even if she didn’t understand what I was saying, she would believe it, because it was me saying it, and she knew that she could trust me. It was a very special bond.
Jeez, four years is a long time to have not had that. I’m navigating a particularly difficult stage in my business at the moment and I so need her. Everyone says “she’s there guiding you” and sure, this may be true. But it’s not the same. Nothing is the same. And it sucks.
Four years is more than half the amount of time Mum went without her Mum. I really wish that I understood how hard it is to not have your Mum when my Mum was going through it. The last Mother’s Day I spent with her and she was crying as I packed her in to my car…. I wish I was more understanding then. I remember clearly being surprised and a little bit frustrated that she was crying about her Mum who had died 7 years ago – you know, FOREVER ago. Not FOREVER ago. It was only 7 years. I know I’ll be doing the same thing in another 3 years. I wish I could go back and talk to her about how she was feeling and to understand and to try to make her feel better, the way she always did with me.
I also know that at that time she knew she was very sick. She had been extremely unwell in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day and only she knew at that time just how ill she had felt. She protected us from that – too much, it seems. I would have got her to her Doctor quicker than I did that next week, if she had told me how much pain she was in or if I had seen her. Then again, I also had a terminally ill best friend, and was doing what I could to spend quality time with her and her family, going to chemo appointments etc and Mum knew how important this was. She didn’t want me to be worried about her on top of dealing with all that I was with Stace.
She was pretty sure that there was something sinister in her lungs when she had the scan in the February after her stroke and there were enlarged glands. She told me this later.
So, Mum knowing how sick she was, she would have been scared about leaving her “chickadees” and she wouldn’t have wanted to talk to me about how hard it was for her to live without her Mum. She would have instinctively known that there was a chance that I was going to be faced with it soon enough and we didn’t need to talk about it. Actually, that reminds me of a conversation in the hospital, I think it was two days before she died, after she had received the diagnosis that it was lung cancer. We were both scared and started to cry and then she said “we don’t want to talk about this yet, do we?”. I said no, not yet. We agreed we would just pull it out bit by bit and talk about it. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to pull it out at all again and talk about it – ever. It all happened so goddamned fast. Diagnosis on Thursday, dead at lunchtime on Sunday. We know she took control. She wanted it to be quick. She never wanted to be a burden and she certainly made sure of that. The Dr was so shocked that it happened as quickly as it did and he said that often they see patients in this situation and they just give up and they are gone.
Here’s the biggest things I would have shared with Mum in the last 4 years:-
- Our dream house. We bought it four months before Mum died and she wasn’t well enough to see it.
- Chad and Lisa’s wedding (this was only three months after Mum died)
- Jay being terribly unhappy at Hawthorndene Primary and us moving him to Blackwood Primary
- Meeting Mum’s dear blogging friend Chris Goopy, in Brisbane
- Kym’s cancer finally catching up with her after 12 years and us having to say goodbye
- Having to say goodbye to Auntie Mary and what an amazing job Sylvia did for her funeral
- Stacey’s health continuing to deteriorate and watching her waste away in front of my eyes
- The development of my own relationship with June
- My decision to keep Mum’s blog alive and to take over the blogging (although nowhere near as frequently or as well)
- Our trip to the UK and finding Marie’s grave and staying with Mandy
- Stacey’s cancer taking over after 5 years and having to be the “Eugoogalizer” at her funeral and what an honour it was and how I rocked it
- Jay becoming a skilled cricketer, playing in the Adult D Grade competition with his Dad and winning the bowling trophy in 2016/17. Glenn North being his personal cricket coach.
- Robin’s sudden death and my trip to Queensland and my speech at the funeral
- Jay getting selected to play in the Under 14s for Adelaide Cricket Club and then being successful at securing one of 15 coveted positions in the Adelaide High School Cricket program
- Jay being terribly bullied by his “friend” (who wasn’t successful at securing one of the other positions in the cricket program at Adelaide High) and then his whole group of friends turning their back on him
- The way that Jay stood tall against the bully and his “friends” and found a new group of friends and kept turning up and facing it day in, day out.
- Jay being selected as captain for Keswick Under 14s
- How terribly Blackwood Primary School handled the whole bullying situation, especially once the Bully’s father stepped in and ramped up the bullying right at the end.
- Pat’s bowel cancer and how she has recovered so well
- The first stage of the internalisation of my largest client’s work
- Our pool
- Jay starting at Adelaide High and being so happy, fitting in with a great bunch of kids and thriving in the excellent learning environment that he hadn’t had for years
- Our trip to the US and me going to Canada and staying with June and meeting the other 8 cousins I met.
- Jay becoming a teenager
- the fact that her Baby (Chad) is going to be a Dad (In November this year)
- Bruce and I being awarded club person of the year for Keswick Cricket Club
- The second stage of the internalisation of my largest client’s work and the uncertainty this brings for the future of my business
- Me taking up dancing again (Salsa)
I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that every one of those that were a challenge would have been easier with her understanding and wisdom. I also know that she would have relished the achievements and would have proudly shouted them to the rooftops.
Mum, I miss you and my heart aches. I spent all morning in bed “pulling the covers over my head” and spending the day wallowing in the feeling of sadness and emptiness. I give myself this day, once a year, to go with it. At least it’s not a lot more than once a year now. I remember all to well when it was daily. Time is a great healer in that respect.