When my Mum passed away, I willed my life to stay exactly how she left it – perfectly untouched like the crisp layer of newly fallen snow, blanketing my life. I daren’t take a step forward in fear of altering what she had left. I awkwardly lived around her belongings, preserving her life in our home.
But that’s not the way it goes.
Our little home this year has seen the carpet gain a new coffee stain and muddy little paw prints on the wall where the cat climbed in through the window after it rained – sorry Mum. We’ve put some new photos on the mantel piece, and we have taken many down.
The people in our lives have changed too. We have met so many new personalities that she would have loved to meet; personalities that have influenced our own.
This weekend said goodbye to lots of Mum’s belongings and nearly all of her clothes. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be though. I didn’t cry.
Though we emptied her wardrobe just this weekend, our home has felt empty ever since she left. It’s a little messier here and there and her trace is now all but gone. She doesn’t cook her usual Sunday roast. Rather, we eat a stir fry or sweet potato, and Evee has actually taken to eating a salad once in a while. We don’t sit beside her in bed anymore with a hot chocolate, rather Evee comes to my room with a mint tea.
And while her trace is no longer preserved like a shrine between these brick walls, her memory remains perfectly fresh and untouched in me. It no longer wrenches my heart in two when I revisit those happier times or recount old conversations that we shared.
She still lives in our stubborn independence as we take a ladder and a pair of secateurs to the wisteria that climbs the wall as we pretend that we are experienced gardeners who definitely know what they are doing. And she echoes in our uncontrollable laughter half an hour later as we double over at the sight of just how awful the wisteria now looks and maybe we should have just asked for someone’s help before ruining it.
I can see now that, despite my initial reluctance, in 11 months and 7 days I have taken many steps across that blanket of snow. I realise that I am not the daughter that she left behind and my life isn’t exactly how she left it.
Despite the occasional stumble, my dance with grief is more fluid than awkward now.
Today, I will myself to live my life exactly how I want to, with my Mum’s memory perfectly untouched. I look forward to the steps that I am yet to take that will carve the way for my future, away from our little home.
"And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair."
After the Storm - Mumford & Sons
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