I heard The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ on the radio today. For years this has been the song that marks the beginning of the Christmas season for me. It’s was my mum’s favourite too so we’d both listen out for it and whoever heard it first would send the other a message saying simply “Now it’s Christmas!”. Singing along in the car this morning, I noticed my hand moving towards my bag to get out my phone and send the message…
It’s over two years now since Mum died; she was 61. I knowing losing her doesn’t make me special or unique. Without trying very hard I can think of seven good friends who’ve lost close family members (including four mothers), but everyone’s grief is different; we are all special and unique. Although I think about Mum almost every day, I’m not sad every day, that time has passed. Of course there are certain occasions that force you to remember and contemplate what might have (should have) been. Birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas are bittersweet. Personally I find Mothers’ Day difficult too, perhaps because my first one as a mother was also my first one without a mother. Receiving a card is wonderful but doesn’t replace sending one.
The grief (and it is still grief) on these dates is manageable because it’s expected. I know that when the Jam opens his presents I will wish my mum was there to see him. I know I’ll think of her on her birthday and wonder how we would have celebrated. What’s really hard is the unexpected grief, the wave that hits out of the blue provoked by some small event. For example:
- Dropping a stitch in my knitting – Mum would have been able to catch it back up, correcting any mistakes on the way. I usually have to unravel several rows and start again.
- The new series of Strictly Come Dancing – I can’t bear to watch the early rounds when they’re embarrassingly bad, but I do love the frocks. Mum would let me know when it was safe to join in.
- The last Harry Potter films – I still haven’t watched them, partly because I’m so angry that Mum didn’t get to see them. At least we both finished the books.
- Mordred resurfacing in Merlin – Mum loved the Arthurian legends. We used to speculate how the BBC version would use the stories and when this happened she was the person I wanted to call to discuss it.
When these things happen it’s upsetting, but when the painful jolt passes, I’m always pleased. My mum is still very much a part of my life, not just on special occasions but every day. She is still my role model and her example still guides me as I try to be a good wife, mother and friend.
This post is for my mum: Now it’s Christmas!