Today is my mother’s birthday. It would’ve been her sixty first. We didn’t do anything big to celebrate her sixtieth because we weren’t sure she would be up for it. As Mum dealt with complications associated with the chemo and the colostomy bag she preferred to not have people around. The milestone went by quietly. Today was another quiet day. There’s been no celebrations, just reflections on a life that was.
Death is so confronting in its finality. There’s no gentle distinction between being alive and being dead. Even when a person is unconscious, the presence of their body gives some comfort. To be able to touch them, sit and talk to them even if they are unable to respond. Just to be in their physical presence may be heartbreaking but it’s better than the absolute absence that comes with dying. It is difficult to process the fact that the physical remains of my mother are contained in a small space behind a plaque on a brick wall.
Even though her physical body is gone, there are so many ways in which she is still present. My habits and interests were strongly influenced by my Mum. I like making things with my hands and giving handmade gifts. Things that Mum made are scatted around my house. A lot of my favourite recipes came from her. There’s the memories and the photos as well. There's so many other things but my brain has shut down for the night.
No matter how much I wish my Mum was still here, she is gone. She will never age past sixty. I won’t pretend our relationship was perfect. We were as much the same as we were different. I’ve been told many times that we had the same personality. The most important factor was that we loved each other fiercely. My only wish is that we had more time to work things out. Who knows what could have been?
So I sit here alone on the night of her birthday. I wanted to do something to celebrate but I had no idea what to do. The weight of missing her sits heavy with me tonight. I know there is nothing I can do to bring her back. I can only remember the good times we had together. How happy she was to be a grandmother. Because even though we were robbed of the future, the past cannot be changed.