I’ve been in quite a reflective and somber mood this week. There have been a few times when I just wished that mum was still here, to ring, to have a chat to, to have a wine and laugh with. I also think my reflective mood has stemmed from my recent visit to Port Lincoln. I was only there for a couple of days, but it has really impacted me.
Many yeas ago when my grandparents retired from farming they moved to Pt Lincoln. They had this great house. It was up on a hill and you could see out to the bay and the jetties and wharfs. I spent a lot of my school holidays there, driving back and forth from our farm in grandpas camper van or doing day trips to stock up on supplies and for other appointments. Our visits there always included a drive to Winters Hill look out and out to the Marina. We always had a stop at the bakery for a toasted cheese sandwich and a Kitchener bun. And we always had the obligatory photo taken in front of the car! (see below). As I got older and left the farm and moved to Adelaide, my visits were not as frequent; and I’d not been back there really since my grandma passed about 8 years ago. I spent much of my time on this recent visit in awe of all the changes that this little city has undergone, but also the things that have stayed the same.
I’ve spent a lot of time since the weekend thinking about all of this; life, death, loved ones I no longer have in my life and how they helped make me who I am today. I’ve been thinking about how I have changed, how I have or haven’t dealt with “things”; and how I have been able to move forward, past those heartbreaking difficult moments and times, the first. Not just with mum, but my grandparents (all of which have passed); and my mother in law and uncles and aunties. They have all had an impact on me some way.
I have been um-ing and ah-ing about sharing this piece of writing. It’s quite personal and reflective and lets face it, sad. But this was how I was feeling at the time when I wrote it and I don’t want to shy away from these feelings; and for some it may be just what you are or have felt too. It’s about “First”. The first life events that mum was not here for. These are the hardest moments or milestones that I have been through since mum passed. Not to say that the seconds or thirds haven’t been hard, they have just become different. Still hard, but different.
It’s not a polished piece and it’s not my best piece of writing, but it is raw and honest and it’s me, that’s all I ever want to be and share – me.
The first minute, I held your hand, said goodbye again, swept a piece of hair from your forehead and then kissed you there. I rested my head against yours and told you I loved you.
The first hour, I wept, I cried, I kept holding your hand. Family hug. My heart shattered into a million pieces. The Doctor came in. It was final.
The first day, I was numb, I cried, I made many phone calls, just took the next step, whatever it was. I was on auto pilot. Doing what people expected of me.
The first week, I cried. I reflected and found memories I thought I never knew I had. Your funeral was organised, just as you wanted it, with a few tweaks. Family reunion for the saddest of days. I was utterly exhausted. Life went on.
The first birthday without you was your very own. Just 14 days later. I cried. I didn’t know what to do, where to go. Birthdays were always celebrated, but what do I do now?
There were more first birthdays that you missed in the weeks following. I cried. The celebrations were not the same. No longer did we have fancy birthday cakes for the kids that you had made in the past years. You were no longer here to share a glass of wine at the family gatherings with me. What do I do now?
The first Christmas was torment. I cried. You loved Christmas, decorations a plenty in your house and ridiculous amounts of food on Christmas day. You weren’t here for the Honey Biscuit Baking Day or to go overboard with presents for the kids. On Christmas day I wore your favourite scarf, I wanted you to be here, I thought you would be, I was hoping it was all a dream. It wasn’t. I didn’t know what to do.
My first birthday without you was..…I don’t have any words to describe it. There were tears, again. I felt so numb, you were not here to celebrate with me. No amount of love and best wishes from anyone would take away the anguish of not having you here. I was lost.
The first Mother’s Day arrived. I cried again. We finally had a plaque at the cemetery and your ashes are there. This is where I went, hoping to feel comfort, but I didn’t. I took you your favourite roses, and a photo frame with pictures of us. Realisation that there would be no more special lunches or dinners on this day hit me so hard. I didn’t know what to do.
The first year went by, at times like the blink of an eye; at other times, painstaking slow. Like life was torturing me at every turn. I cried, a lot. Wondering why life can be so short for some, wondering why your final weeks had to be the way they were, wondering why no one had found a cure for cancer, wondering how and when I was going to “get over it”.
It was a year of trying to maintain the traditions, but at the same time create new ones. It was a year of soul searching and looking for memories to hold on to. It was a year of not finding happiness in life’s most simple pleasures, but finding sadness in every day.