Yesterday I was looking through the TV listings when I saw that the French Open tennis tournament was about to start. I very nearly picked up the phone to ring Mum. It's not like I used to ring Mum every day or anything but there were certain things that would always trigger one or other of us to call.
Top flight tennis was one of those things ... or a good movie coming to the local arts cinema, an interesting play opening at the theatre, the latest Welsh National Opera tour dates, advice on interpreting unusual recipes, some technical issue which Mum would always ask me to deal with (me being an engineer n'all), invitations to meet for lunch / coffee / a visit, invitations to call in on my way home from work for no better reason than we hadn't seen one another for a few days ... actually now I come to think of it there were quite a few things that would trigger a phone call.
Grieving is strange. It's like repeatedly forgetting and then remembering over and over again. The pain in those moments feels new, intense and raw. But the pain and the intensity are not constant. Sometimes I wonder if this is normal. It's like a lot of the time I'm OK ... perhaps because there's still some part of my brain that harbours this illusion that Mum is still here ... that I'll hear from her any day now. Like she's away on holiday or something. And then something will happen, like yesterday when I so nearly picked up the phone ... and I'll remember all over again.
The way the tears come these days is different from how I expected. I mean I've cried a fair amount over the years, but these tears ... it's like when I cried as a child. It's frightening, intense, painful, overwhelming, out of control ... and it feels endless. Bottomless. Like there's no safety net beneath me any more when I never even realised that I thought of Mum in those terms at all. It's not like she ever actually acted like a safety net ... certainly not since I started work at 16 anyway. I thought I was an adult back then ... ha! How little I knew ... how little I still know for that matter. Funny ... it seems that on an emotional level I am to some degree still very much a child.
This grief doesn't feel simple though which again I didn't expect. It feels fraudulent in a way. I ask myself "am I crying for the loss of the mother I had, or the mother I wish I'd had?" I feel guilty that my grief is partly one and partly the other. I guess I assumed that grieving would be less complex than it is. Something more akin to simple but deep deep sadness.