It’s been nearly 4 months since she left, & I’d say I’m grieving ‘well’. We’ve all heard the saying that everyone grieves in their own way, and of course it’s true; Dad’s sudden death 13 years ago knocked me flat, thumped me with depression, and took about 5 years to recover from (such a “Daddy’s girl”).
But Mum? Not so much. It was a relief mainly, and expected, after a long slow decline. Plus we weren’t nearly as close as Dad and I.
I’m aware I’m in a process of letting go, as I adjust to being an orphan. I’m well-supported by family and friends, and I’m so grateful Mum is free of suffering now.
Yet the other day, it struck me that I was missing an essential dynamic: I am no longer a daughter.
It’s a role I’ve known my whole life, and played dutifully, even when I was being the ‘difficult’ one, which I admit I feel I got typecast into for many years.
There was the ‘jealous’ one when my new brother was born; the ‘spoilt’ one by Grandma and Grandpa; the ‘cuddly’ one sometimes, or the funny one when I was exploring my dramatic abilities.
I could be kind, clever, mean or selfish too it seemed…
Yet always her daughter.
She got me my first job in the local newsagency, so I could pay for my fat pony’s winter hay. She helped find local families I could babysit for, and cleaned the ballet studio for free so that I could take lessons.
As I got older, she taught me to drive, stayed up half the night worrying about what time I was coming home, and was incredibly sad when I moved out of home at 18, then emigrated solo to Australia at 20.
I’ve travelled the country, and half the world- bought and sold houses- loved and lost several times- had a child, and raised him to be a wonderful 21yr old who recently moved back home- throughout it all, I was a ‘daughter’.
I now have no one else so devoted to me, or to care for in return as one can only care for your mother.
No one else to feel such desire for connection from.
No one else irritated me so much for so long during my terrible teens; no one else tended to my illnesses, or championed me at Pony Club quite so fiercely (even though it was deeply embarrassing at the time).
I was always her only daughter, and now I’m not.
I didn’t expect to miss the role as much as I am. In the last decade, as her dementia increased, I felt more like a parent, even though I lived so far from her there in England.
My wise son even got it, when he last saw her in 2015:
‘She wants you to look after her doesn’t she? It’s like it’s your turn now.’
So the part of “daughter” has long been drifting away from me, like a fine net cut loose in the ocean, strand by strand.
It feels like my last official act in that position was to organise her a wonderful send off, which I did to the best of my abilities.
And now I carry on, living my amazingly ordinary life as an artist, a mother, a cousin, lover, best friend, teacher, blogger, colleague…
But sadly no more a daughter.
In gratitude for red hats, being Mum’s Princess, and learning to let go, G xO