This coming Sunday, October 9th, will be a tough day for me.
It is every year.
It is a day I dread. I know it is coming, it is as inevitable as, well, the days of the week. I cannot avoid it.
In 1993, I was 20 years old, at college and living away from home with the boy who would later become my husband. I was crazy in love and never wanted to leave him, never wanted to spend a weekend back at home without him.
I knew my mother missed me and would have liked me to visit more. But, hey, I was young and selfish and thoughtless. And, like all 20 year olds, I thought there was all the time in the world.
I called home one day in September, from a phone booth outside the Post Office, (back in the days when we actually used phone booths), and spoke to my mother, who told me she had been to see the doctor and was going into hospital for some tests.
The next time I called home I was told she was in Intensive Care.
One month later, on October 9th, she died. I was holding her hand when she took her last breath. The last thing she ever said to me was, “I love you, darlin’”. She was 53.
Turns out I didn’t have time.
I will never know what our relationship as two adult women would have been like.
I will always be the rebellious kid that left home without a backward glance. The girl who fought tooth and nail with her. The girl who rolled her eyes at her. The girl who loved her to bits but wasn’t able to show it. The girl who felt she never ‘got’ me, not the way she did my sister. The girl who was insanely jealous of their relationship.
At her funeral, in that final moment that we had to say goodbye, just before the undertaker closed the casket, in front of a crowded room of people, I bent down and kissed her cold cheek and the reality of it hit me. This was it. I think I had to be helped up. I’m not sure, but I think it was the boy I loved.
An old friend of hers I remembered from my childhood, (because she had a pet tortoise that fascinated me, she seemed so exotic and I loved visiting her house), came over, hugged me, looked me in the eyes and said, “She was so proud of you.” I never knew.
So, Sunday will come and I will think of her. We will talk about her and laugh at good memories. She was a very funny lady.
I will cry. And I will miss her.
I love you Mam.
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