This weekend we had a family weekend in Norfolk to celebrate what would have been our mum’s 60th birthday.
This July will be 5 years since she left us.
So much has changed in the past 5 years in terms of our family dynamics, we’re barely recognisable. Mum has four new additions to her family in the form of Lily, Annie, Sophie and Summer. How much she would have loved them.
Of course, this weekend was a celebration, as much as it possibly could be without mum being there. It was that classic “she’ll be there in spirit” shin dig.
It was a chance to bring a family together that lives hundreds of miles apart, and to create new memories with our new brood of children. It was a chance to talk to my sister about mum and feel able to do so freely. We think about my mum every single day but we don’t often speak about her out loud anymore. Maybe it’s because we don’t want others to feel awkward (people don’t know what to say to you when you’re talking about your dead mother), and maybe because we don’t want to bring sadness to the forefront of our minds.
Because if you think too hard about what has been lost – for me, for my sister, for our children, it’s difficult to bear. Because she should be here with us. She should have been able to meet her grandchildren, she should have been able to see her daughters become mothers. Our children are missing out on so much.
The best way to explain it is comparing it to heading off on a day trip and getting that familiar “oh god, we’ve forgotten to pack something important” feeling. It dawned on me recently that I have lived with a similar feeling for the past 5 years. Mum is the important thing we’ve forgotten to pack, she’s the empty chair at the table, she’s the family stone that kept our family whole. Now our family is fragmented and bitty, because we’re missing that vital touch stone to gravitate towards.
Doesn’t cancer have a lot to answer for?
Had she been here for her 60th we would have been throwing her a big party, and no doubt we would have been making her a big carrot cake (her favourite). I think she would have wanted to be by the sea, all together, enjoying the spring sunshine. So that’s exactly what we did (although there wasn’t much sunshine to enjoy!).
We stayed in a cottage in a village called Dorking, only a few miles from Brancaster Beach. For anyone looking for a large house to rent in this area I would highly recommend The Old Butcher’s Shop. It was beautifully furnished, spacious, had a wonderful quirky layout and perfectly located close to beaches and local amenities.
I really don’t think there’s anything more important than keeping her memory alive – I blog about her often, and maybe some will say I’m dwelling on the past, or being morbid, but for me this is a way of keeping her memory alive. It’s about honouring her memory, remembering who she was and continuing to love her, despite her absence.
Happy Birthday mum.