Every May as Mother’s Day draws closer, I am catapulted into a world of introspection. Having lost my mother when I was 20 years old in an unexpected accident, it is occasions like Mother’s Day, her birthday, my birthday, Christmas, Easter and more recently my wedding day that remind me of how wonderful a lady she was and how much I miss her.
I am suddenly reminded of all the things that were left unsaid. I find myself feeling regret for certain things that were said. And ultimately I end up taking it upon myself to shed my own form of “hindsight wisdom” on any person that will listen with sprouting’s of things such as “appreciate your mother, spend time with her and capture the special moments, because when she is gone, you will miss her, unbearably.”
The reality is or so I believe, that we all love our mothers, even if at times we find it hard. No matter how frustrating she is, no matter how much we may feel that she has wronged us and no matter her shortcomings, I do believe that there is an innate love that exists between mother and child and that connection does not easily disintegrate.
So as another Mother’s Day nears closer, and with the advancement of social media and the avalanche of public displays of love that come with it – I am reminded how much I still miss my Mum. I am also reminded and have come to accept that no matter how much I grow and evolve, there will always be things I wish I had of realised sooner.
There were so many moments growing up where I thought that you were against me. I was so sure that your only goal in life was to make me miserable and stop me from living the life I deserved. I realise now, that every single action you took, every warning you gave and every punishment you served (which I totally deserved) came from the deepest love.
You told me once that I was yours until I was 18 and then I could go forward and make my own decisions. This was followed by the fact that you insisted I finished high school and stayed living at home. I hated you at that moment and honestly thought that you were the meanest mother in the world. The reality was that I was hanging with a (very) questionable group of people.
I can see now that I have a habit and knack for getting in my own way at times – something I still struggle with – and you, my dear Mum, were ALWAYS doing everything you could to guide me, protect me and prepare me.
I wish I still had you now so that you could do just this.
You and Dad did a great job to ensure that we had a big family. With 5 of us kids, I wonder if having so many of us, was in some way, your own form of healing the pain you endured having been adopted and an only child.
Growing up and with a large gap between us all, I guess we didn’t quite bond as strongly as some siblings do. I have always loved them all but we were just too far apart in age to have a closeness and honestly that was ok.
In the years since you have been gone this has changed. I have realised just how important these people are, the only people who know me in my barest form. The people who share with me the pain of losing you. And the people that I will always love pretty much unconditionally because I know that under their pain, they love me just the same.
From almost the exact moment we lost you, my world got smaller. The only thing that mattered right then was the people that had known me since birth. My brothers, my sister and even though we have struggled in our relationship – my Dad.
In the years that have followed, I have made it a priority to be in their lives. At times I have wanted to scream at them and have felt deeply rejected by some of their actions. I have struggled with a deep sense of guilt for not doing more for them, or knowing how to communicate better, however, I have and do strive every day to be all that I can for each of them.
I wish I had of realised the gift of family when you were here. I wish I could have put my frustration aside and shown you what you meant to me – which was everything. I wish I had of loved you better.
This is something that haunts me. As the years pass by, I seem to have less of you to hold onto. My memories are not as solid as they once were and unfortunately and due to things out of our control, there is very few photos left. The photos we have, are cherished and shared with your grandchildren and your daughters and son-in-law’s, but I want more.
Not having enough photos and videos of you has inspired me in the years since to document everything I can - of everything! Not just for my memory but so that my kids and their kids have something to look back on. I realise now the true importance of capturing life – both taking the time to create and capture precious memories and always having a camera on hand (or these days a phone) to capture the day today.
The photos I do have are displayed in my favourite spaces so that when I am struggling in life or looking for guidance I can turn and see you. It comforts me and, on some level, helps me to feel connected to you. To have you to talk to you and give advice now in my adult years is what I long for most – that and one of your hugs.
The night before you died you told me “don’t get too caught up in a 5-year plan, you could go out and be hit by a truck tomorrow.” Then that is what happened to you, literally.
Even though I know there is not much truer than this statement, I still struggle with it. I have to constantly remind myself to be here in the now. I am great at making plans, and then plans for those plans… I have even found a way to make money writing plans for other people!
Being present and in the now of my life can feel indulgent. And scary. Plans feel safe - like there is some type of control over what will happen next. I know that this is futile, and I have no control over anything really – I learnt this the day you died. But still I do it.
Even though this one is a continual “realisation-in-progress,” what I am grateful for is that because of you constantly being in my head reminding me to be in the now of my life, I am more present than I possibly would have been. And in this very moment I am content.
Our family isn’t a huggy-feely family. Nor are we overly great at expressing our emotions or communicating. I realise now that there is nothing more important than telling people how you feel. Having the uncomfortable conversations, being vulnerable and showing your love.
Mum, I am sorry I did not tell you I love you enough. I am sorry we didn’t hug more, laugh more and just be together. You constantly showed us that we were number one and for that I thank you.
Today, I am learning how to show my love, how to lead with my heart and how to give care and support. It is my priority in life that people know, feel and see what they mean to me - through my words, my actions and my support.
I do not get this right all the time, but I am aware, and I am learning.
So as we near closer to another Mother’s Day, a time when I could be sad and stuck in what I have lost, I choose to do just that and say I love you – to all of the wonderful women in my life you have helped guide and support me since I lost you.
I will choose to capture moments with these women, celebrating life and cherishing what I have been blessed with. And when the moment is done and I am in my own space again, I will take a moment to turn and look at you with gratitude that even though I didn’t have you for a long time, I had you and you were wonderful.
N.B: The images displayed in the gallery below are not of me and my mum, but that is me - up there, above. This is ultimately why I wrote this article - to hopefully inspire others to remember to capture life (in whatever way they choose) and be in it with those you love every day.
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