I posted this photo a year ago, when Eilidh and my mother were both in the hospital. I took it a couple of years before that, when Eilidh was 12. It was her birthday. I had to bribe my mother to let me take it, or rather bully her a bit. She hated having her photo taken and would always pull a silly face or tell me off or move away entirely. I told her I would stop pointing the camera in her direction for the rest of the day if she would let me take one nice shot.
Eilidh's doing pretty well, though her energy has never fully recovered. She still does everything and anything, it just exhausts her. School work is hard, exams are hard. And my mother, as you already know, died. On this day in July last year, some time in the early morning, she died.
I don't know what to say here. There are worse mothers and more tragic deaths - just that one plane load of souls lost today will cause devastation t0 many thousands of family members and friends. But I did want to say something, to mark the occasion, to draw a line in the sand. I've had a shit year. It hasn't been the kind of awful I hear from others when remembering their mothers, and for a very long time I just didn't understand what kind of awful it was. I both loved her and didn't often miss her. Just over a week ago I woke up sobbing and feeling like I was worthless and unlovable, as if the voice of my mother had been whispering in my ear all night long "fat pig, no-one likes you, horrible wife". These are words she had said to me at one point or another, and many more besides. I heard nice ones as well, but they were far too rare to have had much of an effect on the damning ones. Those ones slipped through the strongest of my defences and left their poison deep in the middle of my psyche.
And that's what kind of awful it was. Her death meant I would never get her to change her mind. She may have loved me in some kind of way, I don't actually know. I like to think so. But she didn't think much of me. I wasn't conscious of doing so, but I must have hoped she would one day decide she'd made a mistake and I'd been really quite lovely all along, and when that hope was destroyed? It was hard.
We never held a funeral and I wasn't there when my siblings scattered her ashes in the ocean. So I'll use this anniversary to say goodbye to her and to the me who hoped that her mother would love and accept all of her, one day.
Bye, Mum. I loved you, very much. And I am so sorry about the way you died. I liked how easily you laughed, and how you could make things fun. I liked how hard you worked and how you kept us clothed and clean and fed and took us on holidays. I liked how you said I could write well, even if you made fun of it a lot more often. I liked those skates you bought me for Christmas, and all the Easter Eggs I knew I would get. I liked how I could choose what meal I got to eat on my birthday.
I didn't like the lies and I was devastated at how often you would turn your words against me. I didn't like how you would talk about me to my sisters, to your friends, how you would belittle me to my children and my husband. I didn't like how little you believed in me and what I was capable of. How little protection you offered me from the world. I saw you and your imperfections clearly, and early on, and I forgave them readily. We're all shits, more or less, and the only thing I wanted from you was to be loved. I don't like that you never understood that about me.
I'll be moving on now. I hope wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, you found peace. I hope I have many decades left in my own life, and I hope in those decades I will keep learning how to love and live well, but even if it all ends for me today I will never be sorry I was here. Even when I am miserable and scared and anxious and overwhelmed, I am never sorry that I got to be here. So thank you for that. Go well, and love to you, always.