Dear Mum

Mum, I miss you more than I thought I would be able to feel anything. Every day something reminds me of you and I wish more than anything that I could hold your hand and hear your voice again.

I am so sorry that whilst you were ill, I felt so angry all the time. I felt helpless and I wish I could have spent more time with you, but I didn’t know how to. I didn’t feel able to. You were so unwell, and I didn’t know what to do to make you feel better. I didn’t know what to do about anything. I was so stressed and unhappy, and it unfortunately manifested itself when I was at home.

I didn’t want to show you that I felt so swamped with feelings about your impending death, because I was so aware that you must have had many difficult feelings to process yourself. I was withdrawn, I was heartbroken, and I was terrified. I was scared of what this illness had made you become, it wasn’t you anymore and it wasn’t comfortable to be around. I couldn’t allow myself to tell you any of this because I didn’t want to add these feelings onto the burdens you must have been feeling. I wish we had spoken about our feelings more than that one time that you told me you felt as though you were at the end of your life. I appreciate you sharing that with me, but it was so painful to watch you speak about it because I knew your heart and your head were fighting to get those words out. You knew it was the right thing to do, but you were telling your child that this was the point you really felt like you were dying. That shit’s tough, right?

Sometimes I go to lie on your bed just to feel where you were. My heart aches every day for you.

I went to counselling sessions, to help me both express and process my feelings. I’m reading books, researching grief, and connecting with other young people who have suffered significant losses, as there isn’t a huge amount of support for it. I started writing a blog and named it after you in your honour.

I’m telling your story and sharing my experiences because I want to help people. Like you. You always wanted to help. I remember that time I wanted to dye my hair, so you drove me 25 minutes into town and broke the wing mirror trying to park your car just so I could get some bloody hair dye. 

There are so many things that I wish I could share with you. I want to show you the photos of Sam and me on the Eiffel Tower and tell you about all the stray cats we saw in Lanzarote, I want to show you how we changed your house, installed a new kitchen and redesigned the garden. I want you there every birthday and Christmas, I needed you there for my graduation. It wasn’t complete without you and I felt so much sadness in the back of my mind. I want you to have a slice of the chocolate fudge cake I’ve perfected, and I need you to taste my chicken pie to tell me what I’m missing!

Thank you for all the experiences you made sure I had so that I could learn and grow. You took me to the forest or on the common, we went to the beach for summer holidays, and spent weekends across any market in an SW postcode. You taught me to read, to cook, to use a needle and thread, you supported my interests and helped me with the subjects at school I wasn’t very good at. You listened to my worries about school, family, friendships, and boys and you took them seriously. You spoke to my teachers when I felt awful about myself after being bullied (and then laughed with me 10 years later when I bumped into one of those bullies in a nightclub and he didn’t recognise me and asked for my number). You cuddled me and comforted me when my “best friends” never turned up for that sleepover they promised to when I was in year 6. You called your friend and asked her to come over, because she would always paint my nails, and we had a pizza in the oven!

For my 21st birthday, you decorated the house with banners, balloons and 21 shaped sequins, and for months (and years!) afterwards, those little sequins kept popping up around the house. We’d shout across the house or message each other – “I’ve just found another bloody 21!” and laugh about it. We had the lounge carpet replaced in February this year, and I found a bloody 21 after the carpet fitters had left! It was soothing to find that stupid piece of shiny plastic, and I know you would have laughed at it.

You never let me miss out on anything, even when you were working 60+ hours a week across three jobs just to make ends meet, you still managed to pay for school trips and give me pocket money every day so that I could get lunch at school. You came to pick me up at all hours of the morning when I went out with my friends and didn’t think about how I’d get home after, you always let me choose the music in the car, and you’d never say no to McDonald’s. You left the door unlocked and waited up for me when I got myself home after late nights, and you brought me whatever I wanted in the morning when I was feeling rubbish.

Thank you so much for all the things you introduced me to. Thank you for telling me the stories of your youth, showing me the places you went to, and introducing such varied literature, food, music and culture. Thank you for being 100% accepting of any and everyone.

Thank you for everything you taught me and the unconditional love, encouragement, effort, and acknowledgement you had for me. I remember when I was about 18, we had a conversation about you being a single parent and you told me it was hard to be both parents. It was so hard to be the good parent one minute and the bad parent the next. You told me it was difficult to get everything done by yourself. Working 7 days a week, all hours of the day, coming home to housework needing to be done, assisting with homework, diffusing mine and James’ arguments. There were times where you were so tired and I didn’t really understand or appreciate why, so we clashed and shouted and got frustrated with each other, but you never made me feel like I’d done something wrong and the disagreements were forgiven almost immediately.

I am endlessly grateful for the amazing life you gave me when you couldn’t give yourself a life. You made sure I had everything, and I know that it meant sometimes you didn’t have anything. You are an incredible woman and I wish that more people knew.

Thank you so much for being my best friend. The bond we had will never be replaced.

Love you forever, from Rosie (your favourite).

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