On Saturday 23rd January, my mum, Sylvia, left this world. COVID-19 is real and it is robbing us all of precious time. My mum spent all of 2021 in her local hospital, her ability to breathe worsening. She was alone and each one of her 5 children would have given anything to hold her hand whilst she was still able to talk to us. As it is, the last moments I spent with her, she could not form words, but she waited, she waited until all 5 of us had been able to tell her we loved her. It is one of the comforts she has given us.
It would be disingenious of me to pretend my relationship with my mum was easy. She carried a lot of guilt over my disabilities that she could not rid herself of, and I think it was one of many reasons she chose not to love herself as much as she deserved to. I wish I could have made that different for her.
When I came into her life, she became a mother of 5, having been raising children since she was 19 years old. She gave her life to being our mum and since we lost her, it has become evident that each of my siblings and I, as well as her 4 heartbroken sisters are each mourning a different version of the person my mum was. I feel sad that I can only recall “Mum” and will never know Sylvia. She looks so much like my older sister, so young, so happy. I would have liked so much to have known her very much
But in our last conversation, on the Friday, my mum mended my heart a little. She sang to me, which was hard for her through her breathing, but I realised she was singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, a beautiful song, made all the more beautiful now. It gives me a few minutes where I can always be back with her.
The last thing she said to me was “I’m going to Heaven. Don’t be sad, but I’m going to miss you.” I treasure those words, because I know she is at peace in Heaven and I know that she wanted me to be happy and most immportantly, I know that we were so, so important to one another.
My mum, thanks to the pandemic, never got to meet my beautiful Gabby. She idolised Squidge, spoke of how beautiful she was with all her red hair and how much she adored her every time we spoke through lockdown. But all she had of Gabby were the photo postcards I sent her. She told me how much she was looking forward to her first cuddle. I am heartbroken it never got to happen when they shared this world for 5 months.
But I cannot change it and my energies are needed with my beautiful daughters. And so, I write this post, to let them know, unequivicaally, that I, your mummy, love you more than life. You are the reason I have come so far as washing my face each day since this loss. You are the reason I aim to clean my teeth, or even get dressed. Without you, I think I could have faded away in the pain and the guilt.
Know that the creation of your pure souls is the best thing I could have done with any breath in my body. You are my greatest prize, the things, the people that I will always be most proud of. Your smiles have held my breaking heart together.
Squidge understands a lot more of our loss and has helped me to remember the simple things I forget, or thrown her arms around me without question when she has noticed that I am crying. She has devoured photos and videos of my mum (particularly the one of her dancing zombie style to Thriller at my older sister’s wedding) and has pledged to learn to “dance funny like Granny so you won’t be sad when you remember”.
Know that I couldn’t adore you more. Right now, you are holding me together and that’s a lot for 2 little girls of 4 years and 5 months respectively to do. But you do it by just existing, by belonging to me and by giving me somewhere unfaltering to belong beside you.
Know that I am proud of you every day, and that my heart swells when you two sisters are together, with so much love for each other in each look and laugh. The sound of you giggling at each other shows me what my life is for.
I am very aware that my life fell into step with my mum’s when Squidge was born and we had our dedication to our children in common. She came to understand me more, as I did her.
My mum had to give up so much of her life to dedicate it to her disabled child, to shout loud and get me the help I needed. I am so grateful she did that, though I am conscious of how hard that battle was for her, that it was hard to understand the injustice so she took that inside herself too. Mum, I so wish I could tell you there is no need for the guilt you carried all this time. The me I am, the me you raised has a man that loves her unconditionally and I have two beautiful babies I shall love the same way. There’s no guarantee any other version of me could have been so lucky.
I’m going to make sure that you, my girls know that. Because the struggles, of this body, or the absence of my mum are not over. But I could not want to be anyone else. Though I hurt today, though my heart aches, I am blessed.