I'm not about to turn this into the "blog of grief", but I do want to share this other letter, so please bear with me, or, if you've had enough, skip today's post and I'll bring something different tomorrow, I promise. This pic of the pair of us was taken on one of those summer evenings, c 1982,about 5 years before she died.
Tonight/tomorrow morning you'll be 3 years dead. I can't believe it, and I don't want to believe it. It's like being suspended in a time bubble, with time passing by and no matter how much you want it to stop, it won't.I know that come tomorrow, it will be your 3rd aniversary. I don't want that, any more than I wanted what happened that night. I just want it all to have been a bad dream, and I want you back. But I know that can't be- I can't hug you again, or see you or talk to you. I can't sit in the kitchen or study of our cosy home. It's just not to be.
Tonight is like the day before your funeral- just waiting and knowing that the dreaded hour will come. I feel a bit like this is 29th October 1987 and I know that tonight you're going to die and there's nothing I can do to stop it.
Ma, there's an emptiness inside, like losing a limb. You never get over it, you never stop missing it, you never replace it- you just learn to live with it.I get a pain in my chest and throat with the grief, and I just long for you, to hug you and tell you that I love you.
Your memorial card says "pray, smile, think of me, pray for me".
Of course I think of you Ma: so many things remind me of you. I picture you standing at the Aga making toast, as in a photo I took the morning of sister's wedding. I picture you sitting in the study knitting, or I picture you walking along the street carrying bags of shopping. I think of the last few moments we were together, 4 days before you died. It seemed no different to any other parting, but it was the last.I told you I loved you, and meant it. You told me that you loved me too.
Sometimes I think I am you.
"Pray for me"- I don't know if I do that enough. Sometimes when I think of you I do say a prayer, but then I don't like to think of you as needing my prayers. I feel guilty that I don't pray for you more often. I'm afraid to talk to people about these things in case they won't understand or in case it'll take the pain away.
I don't want to believe that you've been gone from us for 3 years, and that every day that goes by is one day more. No, I want time to go in the opposite direction and for there to be some hope of getting you back. And yet I know that won't happen, and even if it could, I'd hate to put you through all the pain you suffered here on earth again.
I believe you're happy in Heaven now, and God knows you deserve that. I don't want to take that from you, even if I could. But I feel the pain of missing you. I would be dishonest if I said it wasn't getting easier- time does help to heal the wound, but it's still not easy. At times like today/ tomorrow the wound is still very raw, but that's the way I want it- I don't want the wound to ever heal.
With these wintry evenings, I think of you a lot. Right now, I think of you at home this night 3 years ago, the fire lit, the room cosy, you sitting knitting. Little did you know the night that was ahead of you, any more than we did. Or did you? I think about it a lot, as though by finding out I can put right what went wrong, turn back the clock. Had you any premonition as you packed up to go to bed that it was the last time you'd ever do it? I hope not, cos I know that you were prepared anyway- you always prayed and you did your best in life. What more could God ask?
I feel guilty for the lack of understanding we had of what your life was like caring for K. I hate the pain and worry he caused you, and the way you died. But most of all, I hate that still nothing has changed with him. At least, when you died, you still had hope that he would take the help available. Now, we have given up hope for him.
Last night, I didn't want to go to sleep till after 3.15am, as a kind of vigil. I nodded off before then but I wish I hadn't, when I think of your loneliness and fear this time 3 years ago.
You had even made tea bracks that day- we gave them to people who called to the house- imagine, you cooked so much all your life, and you also cooked for your own funeral.
I've realised since your death that we must make time for people. I still feel so guilty that I didn't make time to ring you the last week of your life. Now it's too late- nothing, no person can bring you back. Nothing can be as it was before you died- things have changed and it's something I have no control over- the next page has been turned and there's no way to get back to the page we were on before 30th October 1987.
I wonder are you lonely for us the way we are for you? Or is there no loneliness in the place you've gone to? Or do you see and hear us even though we don't see or hear you? Like a one-way mirror? That would be nice.
Ma, I'll go now, but before I do I want to say thanks for all the nice memories, the care and attention, and most of all , for the love you gave me. You gave me gifts that nothing and nobody can take away- memories I can treasure for all of my life. We had a fabulous mother-daughter relationship. Nobody can take that away from me the way God took you. I hope he's looking after you, and keeping you safe for the day when we meet again. When things are bad and I read that bit on your memorial card, it keeps me going- I couldn't go on if I didn't believe that we will meet again."