- Actually, it is four days into 2015 and I haven’t broken my New Year’s resolutions yet, mainly because I didn’t really think about making declarations of ‘Losing Weight’, ‘Getting healthier’, ‘Being more organised’ or all the other things I would usually do when the clock struck midnight to tip me from one year and into the next. To be honest, I was too happy bidding 2014 farewell to worry about my big fat ass or that I will never be an Olympian – not to mention not being organised enough to actually think about making any.
As most of you are aware, I lost my mum in August of last year. The journey to that point was not a very pleasant one and I would not wish Alzheimer’s on my worst enemy. It is a very cruel and destructive disease – and not just for the sufferer. Watching the decline of someone you love is horrific but we make sure we are there every step of the way. It is not about us at that moment, or how we are feeling – it is about how we can help them, how we can ease the pain, the torment, the absolute devastation to their lives.
In reality, I am not too sure that my mum was aware I was there by the time it got to the end, but I hope she took some comfort from having someone chatting to her, feeding her, brushing her hair. I hope when I rambled on about things that happened in her past she took some semblance of solace from those memories considering she couldn’t remember things that had happened recently. And, hopefully, when I rattled on about the ‘here and now’ she would recognise some of the things I was talking about.
The time after losing my mum was not the best. Obviously. Trying to ‘carry on’ and not dwell on what had happened was difficult, but I believed it was the best course of action. It is weird how a family reacts when the matriarch has gone – almost like she was the hand that held us all together, like gripping a fist full of marbles. Then when she passed, the hand fell open and the marbles hit the ground and raced into different directions. That is the only way I can describe it – us all being the escaping marbles trying to flee with no sense of purpose or direction.
Forget Me Not helped me to bring together some of the feelings I was experiencing. Weirdly enough, I had penned to story before my mum died, but editing it was almost cathartic. One thing I am truly thankful for is the feedback from some readers who had read the story and then shared their experiences with me. Hopefully by their sharing their sadness they too began to heal just a little bit. I really hope that is what happened. It doesn’t hurt to know that all proceeds from this short story will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Society either (a huge thank you to Ylva – especially Astrid and Daniela).
By the time it came to Christmas, five months after that awful day, the marbles started to roll back into the centre once again. Maybe it was because of my brother’s brain aneurysm – which was caught in time – or maybe enough time had passed for us all to start accepting that mum was in a better place. Some of the marbles seemed a little more scuffed than they had been, and the rolling action was a tad more laboured, but they made their way back almost to the centre.
I know I am not the only one who has experienced loss in the last few months. I know I am not alone in the heartache that comes with illness, whatever the diagnosis. Sometimes it feels as if we will never get beyond it, never live through it, but we do. We surprise ourselves by how strong we actually are – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We may feel like we are sinking or going under, and although it feels as if we are inhaling salt water most of the time, we are keeping our heads above the surface – just.
So. My New Year’s resolution is to keep moving forward whilst not forgetting to glance backwards now and again. That way I can see how far I have come. My mum will always be with me, snuggled inside my chest alongside the memory of her laugh, her smile, her scent, the way she would feel when she gave me hugs, and she will also be in my memories for the rest of my life.
2014 was not the best year for me but it doesn’t mean I should just discard it. Not everything was doom and gloom, although you are probably thinking otherwise after reading this. I will keep remembering that even though sometimes it hurts to learn from experiences, not all of them are painful and life changing. Experiences come in many shapes and sizes, and I believe we have to be part of all of these however much it can smart at times. Life is full of many things – some we love and some we try to hide from. Experience has taught us that.
2015? Bring. It. On.
And please note … not one F word.