Image originally published as Healing Waters
Grief never ends …
But it changes.
It’s a passage, not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness,
nor a lack of faith …
It is the price of love.Unknown
When I started this blog I never imagined I’d end up writing about my Mum, because talking about her makes me feel very vulnerable and that is not one of my kinks! Vulnerability is terrifying and something I like to have in my control, this is one of the subjects that leaves me feeling like I have no control at all. My Mum is so integral to who I am as a person, as I discussed a little bit in Everything I Am and even now nearly a decade after she died I am so very aware of how she still lives within me. With a blog that divulges virtually every aspect of who I am, I suspect it was inevitable that she would eventually be a talking point. When I saw the prompt for this week’s Wicked Wednesday I knew I’d be writing about her again because she was a huge Doris Day fan.
We spent many car journeys singing along to Doris Day and I know more of the words her to her songs than anyone ever expects me to. When Doris Day died I felt a strange sense of sadness wash over me, and even now as I write it is impossible to hold back the tears. I was sad because I immediately thought of my Mum, I imagined that other timeline in which she was still alive. I wanted to pick up the phone and ask her if she’d heard the news. There have been so many things over the years that could have triggered this feeling and they rarely do, so it was something of a surprise to feel it so intensely.
Perhaps I should not be surprised though. At the end of last year I finally wrote about my Mum’s death, the grief it caused me and the tattoo is inspired in Grief and Tattoos. That post helped me see that I’d actually put my grief on lockdown. Which I recognise as an unhealthy coping method but these experiences do not come with a handbook I suppose I just did what I needed to do to feel okay.
After I wrote that post I resolved to try and let myself heal a little bit. For me, there is definitely an element of catharsis in being tattooed and it is something I am drawn to doing when I am presented with feelings I want to process. In ‘Grief and Tattoos’ I shared the poem ‘Death Is Nothing At All’ by Henry Scott Holland and in the days after writing that post a new tattoo was born.
I chose some lines from that poem they now adorn my left forearm. My tattoo reads ‘Death is nothing at all. Pray smile think of me. Life means all that it ever meant.’ I designed it myself and the person who tattooed it made it ten times better before tattooing it onto me. I wanted one large cross for my Mum, the two smaller crosses at the bottom symbolise my Nan & Grandad, one small cross for my Uncle and one for the baby I didn’t get the pleasure to meet.
I love having this tattoo where I can see it and it reminds to give myself space and permission to think of them all often. It has reminded me to light candles for them as I sit with my memories and my tears. It reminds me to miss them, which I hate to do because it is such a fruitless and painful endeavour to miss someone who will never return. I think it is that knowledge that led me to my grief lockdown.
When I miss my Mum, I feel utterly helpless. When I allow myself to acknowledge that her absences still hurts the tears that bring come from a place of unbearable sadness. I was 25 when my Mum died, but when that feeling of sadness washed over me I just feel like a lost little girl who needs her Mum and knowing that I am forever without her just breaks my heart time and time again. I think I need to be that little girl a bit more often though, I think a near decade of suppressing my grief is long enough.
As sad as these thoughts make me, one thing does always come to the surface when I talk about the fact I don’t have my Mum here with me anymore and that is the fact I get to be that to another person. I’m not the most maternal of Mother’s, but you wouldn’t know this if you spoke to my little boy.
Again parenting isn’t something I talk about often on this blog and when I do it is usually with regards to the times I felt like I missed the mark as Mum. It has to be said though that my little boy tells me regularly that I ‘am the best Mum ever’ and that he is really glad he got me as a Mum because he wouldn’t want any of the others. Yeah in your face other Mums, I’m the best, because my small human said so!
As sad as I can be about the people I miss still having in my life the knowledge that his little face lights up when he sees me actually does act a bit like a soothing balm. When I think of all the things I can’t do with my Mum I find myself thinking about what fun adventures I can have with him, while he’s still little enough to want to go on them with me. He obviously isn’t able to erase all my hurts and even if he could I would not want him to shoulder that burden, but my goodness does his existence make mine richer.
With that thought, I come back full circle to thinking about my Mum. I know she felt that same way about me because I am very lucky that she told me often and with fierce pride just how much she loved me. I know she made sacrifices for me. I know she made decisions that were to better my life. I know she would have walked to the ends of the earth to protect me. I know that for the entire time that we both existed together I was never far from her thoughts. I suspect the intensity of my grief is the price I pay for being loved so well.
It seemed fitting to end this post with one of my favourite Doris Day songs, so I took to YouTube to find one to share with you and have discovered that I have too many favourites. In the end thought some from Calamity Jane won, because that film was also a favourite in our house.