All the sun has gone and there is a low dreich in its place.
This morning, I went to get some more flowers for my stepfather. For some reason, I am convinced that he must have flowers. Then I went to the chemist. The lady in the chemist looked at my pretty bunch and said: ‘Oh, those are bonny.’
I told her my mother had died. I said I was taking my stepfather flowers and soup. She said her own mother had died this spring. We looked at each other, understanding absolutely what it was all about without having to elaborate. We stood in the brightly lit shop, a kind harmony running between us, talking about death. We usually talk about the weather, because we are British, and sometimes she smiles and asks after my mare. Today, we spoke about death.
She told me that her sister had died three years ago, and her mother-in-law the year before that, and then her uncle and her aunt.
‘It’s like someone is having a big clear-out,’ she said, dry as a bone.
I laughed. I looked at her. I pushed my fist against my chest, to illustrate my words. I said: ‘That is so many blows to the heart. Too many blows. What do you do with all that? And you are always so cheerful. You have a smile for everyone.’
She is one of the kindest and gentlest people in the village. I sometimes go to the chemist even when I don’t need anything much, because I like talking to her so much.
She gave me one of those smiles. ‘What can you do?’ she said. ‘You have to keep going on.’
I felt immensely soothed by this conversation, and rather tearful at the same time. Ah, the stages of grief. I’ve gone from shock, through an angry stoicism, past my usual competitive spurt when I think I can do grieving better than anyone ever did the damn thing before, into the momentary sunlight of hunting for beauty to balance the sorrow, to the plain missing stage. I just miss my mother. I actually had to tell myself this morning: ‘It’s all right to miss your mother.’ I don’t want to be a wimp and a bore, I want to come out of the darkness into the light, so I have to give myself official permission. The missing pulls at me like a slow ache, and part of me wants to fight it. But it cannot be fought. It must be felt.
I wish I had had one more conversation, asked one more question, heard one more story. I find her empty room so very, very empty.
I miss my mum.
Are from yesterday, when the sun was shining: