Sunday, 9 November 2014


Two years ago today, 9th November, my mom died.

I've been wondering, what's the right thing to do on the anniversary of your mother's death? It should be marked in some way, shouldn't it?

Last year I went to the crematorium where her funeral was, to look at her name in the book. It seemed like the right thing to do, but it wasn't a nice thing to do. Her name looked weird in the book. It was the only name on a brand new page for 9th November. It looked quite lonely there all by itself. Had some food in the cafĂ© at the crematorium. That wasn't nice either. A group of noisy, self absorbed twats and their (I'm sorry, but, horrendously bratty)  children turned up for lunch, apparently completely oblivious to their surroundings - ie a crematorium, a place where funerals take place, where ashes are scattered, where people are mourned. I wanted to scream at them but I just didn't have the energy. And a year after my mom's death, it still felt like yesterday. I'd only just come to the end of dealing with all the practicalities of it. Probate. Emptying and selling her house. It had been an absolute nightmare, completely taken over my life for a year, and run me in to the ground. I was at the beginning of a meltdown that had been a year coming but which I'd had to put on hold because there was so much to do, and I had to do it. End of. Getting to the one year anniversary of her death felt like a milestone. No more one-year-anniversary-of's or first-since-she-died's to get through (Christmas, new year, her birthday, my birthday, the dog's birthday (!), the weekend I knew something was seriously wrong, the day she went in to hospital, the day she died etc). The first anniversary of her death was a big deal.

That first year had been all about her. This past year, on the other hand, has been all about me. After the one year anniversary, I realised I was completely wiped out. Exhausted. I'd been far too stressed for far too long. There had been so much going on, I hadn't taken time to grieve, or make sense of what happened. So I took some time off work. Went to counselling at Coping with Cancer - to help me deal with the bereavement, but also to work through the implications of my family history of cancer, the genetic testing process I was going through, and my high risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer myself. A lot of time spent thinking about life and death. I've lost count of the number of times very recently where I've shouted "YOLO!" as an excuse to eat too much/drink too much/spend too much/behave like an idiot. But in all seriousness, you do only live once. And it's this past year that that's really hit home. And that was before I was diagnosed with cancer. It's strange but I think my mom's death and going through genetic testing prepared me very well for my own cancer diagnosis this July. I've said before, it was a shock, but it wasn't a surprise. I'd been expecting it (just not quite yet). So when I was told I had cancer, I spent 3 days shocked and stunned, and then... I dunno, just got on with things. I have my moments when I think this isn't fair, or when I am jealous of people without cancer (I'm currently going through a phase of being very jealous of other people's hair). But most of the time I am just glad to be alive. Glad to feel like I have some perspective and my priorities are right. And I know my own mind. I know what I want. I know that the only person who can make me happy is me. I know that while things will happen that are out of my control, I do have a choice in how I react to them (apart from, it seems, in the first 7-10 days after a blast of chemo..... but apart from then, I have a choice!)

Anyway, recently, when I've thought about my mom, I've wondered what she would make of it all, if she could see me now. A year after my mom's death, it felt like yesterday. Two years after my mom's death and it feels like a lifetime ago. So much has changed since she died. I have changed since she died.

So, what's the right thing to do today? I don't want to go and look at her name in the book. I don't want to grieve. I don't want to do some forced celebration of her life, just because it's the anniversary of her death. I think I'm just going to have a normal day, like any other. I'm not sure if it's the right thing to do, but I've decided that's what I'm going to do.

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