This year, in November, will mark 10 years since my mum died of breast cancer. On September 7th my family will be celebrating what would have been her 65th birthday, our 10th without her.
I was devastated when she died. I literally collapsed in the palliative care unit of the hospital. She had gone in the day before, and the night she died I had been at a Habs game. I got a call from her friend who was by her side and she told me that if I wanted to say my goodbyes I had better get there — immediately. I felt so stupid sitting there in my Habs jersey. How could I have gone to the game when she was in such critical care?
The truth is, when my mum called from the palliative care unit, I didn’t know what palliative meant. I was only 17 and had never heard the word before. We’d had family members die before, but I was still in my single digits at the time and they were in another province. I never had to directly deal with an ill family member like I did my mum.
Anyways, to this day I don’t really forgive myself for going to the game. By the time we got there she was already unconscious and I don’t know if she heard what I told her. But I think my mum would have wanted me to have gone to the game.
It can take a lifetime to get over a loss… especially one as close as a mother. I adored my mum. I can’t believe it’s already been ten years.
These days I dream about her. Nothing extraordinary. Usually it’s a benign dream, just like any other but she’s alive, and it feels as if she never left. It can be hard to move on but you need to allow yourself the time to heal. Forgive yourself. Some days are better than others, and birthdays, bad days, holidays, anniversaries, those are all the hardest days.
I spoke at my mum’s funeral. It was a lot about mindfulness and what she preached as a college teacher to her students. I found a book of her writings a few days before the ceremony and paraphrased a lot of what she had written, and then wrote her a letter that I read aloud. I wish I had kept a copy of that eulogy somewhere.
Whether it be a lost family member, an estranged friend, a pet that has passed, or a lover moved on, give yourself the time to heal. Remember to be mindful, and as my mum would always say “this too shall pass”. You will get through it. Lean on your support network. Find the ones you can count on, and be good to yourself. Light a candle, have a bubble bath, treat yourself like your own best friend. That’s something else my mum taught me, and it’s invaluable!