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10.04.2016

Mum: Three Months On

I wrote on Instagram on Sunday that incredibly it's been three months since my mum died. Time is a funny thing isn't it. On the one hand, it's flown, I mean how can that be already?  But then again, it feels such a long time that I saw her and yet, it's only a year ago this month that she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. We were a normal family in October 2015! Please don't let me alarm anyone who may be going through  the same thing right now and are startled by it's speed. She didn't actually succumb to the cancer, that was under control. It was pneumonia. Like a stealth bomber that swooped, caught it's prey and didn't let go.

I kind of wanted to write this post as I received such a lot of poignant comments over on Instagram. Lovely people sharing their own loss. You know, you kind of take comfort from their experience, realising that you're not so odd after all. For one thing, I can't face putting any photos of mum up in the house (nor even on my phone screen save). They startle me, that's the only way I can explain it. I have just the one photo, of her as a new mum to the most beautiful daughter in the whole wide world. That'll be me then. Of course she felt like that because I was, and still am, her daughter. I feel the same about my own.


I also wanted to write this post for me. So that I can look back in another 3 months, a year, two....

So, where are we at the moment? Well Dad is doing amazingly well. He's keeping himself busy doing things that a 77 year old shouldn't be, such as climbing roofs (don't ask), ripping out the fitted wardrobes in my bedroom back home, refitting an already perfectly good bathroom. Yes, he's definitely busy. He got back from a holiday in Spain last week, tired but refreshed and he's enjoying his beloved Sheffield Wednesday season ticket where he gets to spend time with, not only my brother and nephew but extended family too. You see I'm from a football obsessed family, these things matter.

We sorted Mum's clothes out a few weeks ago and Dad was able to reclaim some cupboard space (lol). You know, I was kind of dreading this task but it was so lovely to go through her wardrobes (there were many) and remember her. So many tops and jackets and dresses that brought back such lovely memories. Turned out to be a special time. We laughed at her stash of white trousers, probably over 15 pairs, I forgot to count them. And I lost myself in the riot of coloured tops in reds and blues and purples and pinks. Such happy clothes. She so took her colour palette seriously. As I've said before, my best disciple. It was sad to see a couple of unworn swimsuits that she'd bought for a holiday that she couldn't go on earlier in the year. Squirrelled away in her bottom drawer. That hurt.

I go over to see Dad once a week and we spend the day together. Sometimes we do paperwork, other times we do a bit of cleaning (he keeps the house spotlessly tidy) or we might go shopping for housey stuff. We've fallen into a bit of a comfortable lunchtime routine where I make the sandwiches and Dad prepares the drinks using his silly eco-kettle. And he always, always pops to the shops on the morning of my visit to buy us both an egg custard. What can I say. I adore old fashioned cakes and puddings! We've tried every supermarket brand and independent shop's custards going and I can confidently say with authority, me being an expert now, that  Asda Extra Special egg custards are the best.

Of course I think about Mum every day, a hundred times. I'm still figuring it all out in my head; disbelieve, sadness, fondness. Sometimes even why? I've found it comforting to talk to my aunty, her sister who although several years younger, was so close to Mum. She answers questions that I have. Silly things from Mum's past, way before I was born that I've never really thought about before, but now have a vociferous appetite for. And because those last three days of her life are a blur in my head, I need people to tell me what order things happened in. Why? I don't know. But it seems important that I make sense of it somehow.

I'm sad that she missed her Golden Wedding anniversary on the day that she died, not that we celebrated it of course. But we'd set up a Facebook page for family and friends to pass on their congratulations, post photos and memories. She didn't get to see that. I'm sad that she missed our daughter's 21st birthday and she'll miss my 50th next month. There will be so many special occasions in the future won't there? Where I'll be think if only....

I've been anxious as I don't feel as if Mum is close  to me in my house. I think that's because we live an hour and a half away and no matter how many times she came over here, she'd never have been able to navigate herself. So how can she in death? How can she get to my house? And then a friend told me that after the death of her own mum, she felt the same way. Until one day, she found a penny on the floor and now she finds them in all sorts of peculiar places and she knows that her mum is looking down on her. Pennies from heaven and all. I'm still waiting but feel sure I'll know. In the meantime, I feel at peace at my parent's home. There are lots of photographs and they don't startle me when I see her. It all feels so normal and happy. I enjoy my visits, spending time with Dad and feeling close to Mum.

We all deal with grief differently don't we. No more evident than my own son and daughter. Our 15 year old son rarely speaks of his nan and yet our 21 year old talks about her all of the time. Neither is right or wrong. It's just the way we are.

So that's where I'm at. I probably should have written this in a personal diary but feel privileged that so many lovely people have shared their own private thoughts and feelings, over on Instagram, Facebook and numerous emails. I felt compelled to do the same.

Much love to everyone who has or is going through the same. I'm not in a position to give any useful advice as I'm stilling learning myself. But I know one thing, life carries on. It's different but it carries on.




21 comments on "Mum: Three Months On"
  1. Thank you for putting this all into words, Donna.

    I'm a long time reader and apologize for not commenting earlier but I admire your strength and resilience.

    Wishing you, your dad and the rest of your family much love and prayer from Sydney.

    SSG xxx

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    1. Thank you so much SSG for your lovely comments x

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  2. Beautiful words Donna. Losing a parent is so unbearably hard. My dad has been gone 12 years and it still hurts unbearably at times but it's not that all encompassing grief of the first while. Moving on without him - meeting and marrying my husband, having kids - has been bittersweet but life does go on. I try to remember that I was lucky to have had him for as long as I did and that he is always with me.
    Be kind to yourself. A beautiful friend once told me that in grief whatever I was feeling was "normal" and was ok, good days/ bad days there would be both and that was ok. Take care. xx

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  3. Thanks for this, Donna. As I read this, my Mums funeral is tomorrow and it helped. X

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    1. Oh I'm so very sorry to hear this. I hope it goes well for you all xx

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  4. What a beautiful post. My mum also died of pneumonia in May this year and it has felt very strange and sad not having her around any more as I used to see her several times a week. Take care x

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  5. Thank you Donna for sharing your feelings about your Mum. Many of your thoughts echo my own, having lost my Mum 11 years ago and Dad 3 years ago. I was lucky enough to have had them into their late seventies and eighties. I spent even more time with my Dad after we lost Mum and he became my friend as well as my Dad. I treasured him more than ever during those years. I too only have photos on show of when they were much younger (one of Dad at 21!) and, although I do have photos of them in later life, those ones are more emotional to look at, although I do still pull them out and look when I want to. Just like you it was always fine to see photos in Dad's home. Sending very best wishes as you remember your wonderful Mum, Elaine xx

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    1. I can relate to everything you have said Elaine xx

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  6. So beautifully written Donna ... really, truly beautiful.
    I read every single word and took it all in. You know why.

    Sending you lots and lots and lots love

    Fiona
    xxx

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  7. Your positivity, strength and openness is just beautiful and makes me want to give you a great big hug. Love to you and your family, Kareema xxx

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  8. Thank you for sharing your feelings about losing your mom. Beautifully written. We need more people to share their thoughts when grieving so we all know we are not alone in our feelings.

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  9. Thank you for sharing this with us all. I've been hoping that you are well since your mothers passing. You have an angel looking over you now.

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    1. She was an angel in real life too Marianne xx

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  10. Oh Donna. I'm sitting here sobbing. Such beautiful words and so, so honest. I'm sure your mum has found you and is looking down on you all feeling so very proud of each one of you. My friend lost her mum two years ago and she's still grieving. I can't imagine the strength you need to get through this, but you seem to have such a great support network. Big hugs. Lynne xxx

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  11. Oh Donna, you've set me off again. How has it been three months already? On the penny thing, my DHs best friend lost his Dad a couple of years ago and they swear that when they are out and about with the kids, they always find a little feather nearby. They've told their eldest DD it's Grandad watching them from Heaven. And now I'm welling up again x

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