Mother’s Day can be very difficult if you have lost your mother or your child.
It’s 11.30am on Mother’s Day and the only person who has mentioned it so far is my partner. It’s never been much of a thing in our house, to be sure. People have made breakfast in bed in the past and done a bit of cleaning, but once they get past primary school where they are forced to make cards and think about it, Mother’s Day seems to slip their minds. Possibly it’s because I’ve never been that into it. Why only one day? They should be helping out all year round!
And yet, I was invited to a Mother’s Day gathering over the weekend, but had to pull out because it is just too difficult celebrating being a mum when one of your children is dead.
It is not the same thing at all and I have to admit that all the Mother’s Day stuff – which is thrust in your face every time you walk into the supermarket [our local Tesco in particular seems to have gone completely overboard this year] – is getting to me. I was on a course with another mum whose son had died this week and she brought it up as a difficult time. I hadn’t thought about it up until then. I was so busy trying to get through the week because one of my daughters is on a gap year and has been on the other side of the world and I have spent every second she has been away willing her to be safe.
Everyone has been trying to tell me how exciting it is that she is exploring the world and I know it is. They want me to focus on the positive, but it’s easy to say and harder to do. When you have waved off another daughter at the tube station to never ever see her again, having one travelling to the other side of the world is traumatic. It brings up every single fear you have. I have slept – fitfully – with my phone under my pillow for the last three weeks. I’ve tried to stop myself checking in on her all the time. I’ve tried to distract myself, but everything from plane accidents, bus accidents, muggings, assaults, sharks and all else in between have been going through my head. I have been primed for the worst. Because the worst is what I know. Once you lose one child suddenly, randomly, nothing else feels safe. Why shouldn’t it happen again?
So I thought I would be relieved when she came back on Friday. I was so excited to see her. I hadn’t anticipated that it would bring back all the horror of my oldest daughter not coming back. I live with that every day after all, but I feel like I am back to that moment when the police knocked on our door and everything fell apart. So maybe it’s not Mother’s Day itself, but a whole combination of factors that makes it hard this year. Yet when I went to the forest where my daughter’s funeral took place, it was full of people – all taking flowers for mothers who they loved and missed.
We went to see my own mum on Saturday, but we swerved the actual day. It’s just another date to get through like all the anniversaries. Last week the 23rd marked both the date of the first lockdown and the day we first went to the Old Bailey. I feel like we are constantly treading on glass. It is totally exhausting. I can barely stay awake in the evenings now. And every day it starts again. I know that people say that, although it won’t ‘get better’, you are able to manage it better in time. You just have to hang on in there and reach out to other people who understand, because, although some don’t, there are many more than you think. What else can you do?