I forgot ...

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.

I guess not.


  1. Jos,
    Grief is different for us all and it is very personal. I feel the same as you, like a safety net is gone and there is this big empty space, however I have not forgotten my mom is gone, though it has happened with others I have lost, so I know what you mean. For me it is mostly the thing I remember first thing in the morning, that my mom is no longer here. After 8 months I no longer cry daily, so it does ease up over time, but I think with losing mothers the pain never goes away.
    I am sending you many hugs and a sea of love. xoxo

  2. dearest jos,

    it's me, your traveling companion. you know, i understand every word. and because my Mother is waning but still here, I look to your words like precious seeds to guide my way. where can that love and care possibly go? i think it must stay in the heart as a living breathing thing.

    i don't think i will think i will cry for the mother i wish i'd had, but i think i will cry that part of me feels the loss so deeply and with such confusion while another part of me feels a freedom from it.

    i believe your Mother watches over you. I do believe that, jos.

    i still wish we could meet for a long day of coffee....


  3. What you wrote is pretty much how I feel, especially that part about the grief for the mother I never had, or the one I wished I'd had. Grief is complex and yes, I still think I should call mum or let her know something. A month ago when we drove to Vancouver I suddenly realized a few hours into our drive that I hadn't let mum know where we were going or for how long. And I then remembered. It does get better, slowly and it still hurts too.

  4. when my mum died i felt surprisingly empty - i shook and wobbled a bit but i had expected to feel i'd been hit by a train but it was much milder. i think i did a lot of the grieving for her when i was a kid so i was much more distant. i guess the thing is that there really is no 'right' way to grieve; no script for it. we just do it how we do it. hugs and love.

  5. Many Thanks for the shared this informative and interesting post with me.
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