I stayed in my city over summer and I got comfortable here with my life in the sun. I smiled often and felt like an extraordinarily ordinary person.
A few months ago, I remember Katie turning to me once saying “it worries me that we might never feel like normal people”. We have been burdened with the truth of life and death, and it is a huge burden to carry. When people cry about the trials of life I want to hug them and share my secret. Everything passes, even this life. What you are going through shall pass, and in comparison to the passing on of life; the pain is not so vast and empty.
Sometimes it strikes me how much has truly happened to us, and the depth of all that my sister and I have been through. Sometimes I am shocked that the eyes I stare out of now saw my mother’s last breath, witnessed betrayal, and blinked into new days without knowing what was around the corner.
Today is one of the days where I kneel humbled by my grief. I am not bowled over by it, I am not stressed about it, I am simply shaken by it.
In my Winter Life, I live in a house that is a compilation of noise, laughter and music, on a street full of students and parties. My Winter Life is preparing me slowly for a life of reading, writing, seminars, lectures. My life follows a pattern which is so similar to those around me, yet I feel completely opposite.
Yesterday, I was roller skating against the wind. It buffeted and pulled me backwards. It shoved me off course, made me topple onto the floor. I pulled myself up with a laugh and tried to carry on. There is a very funny video of me trying my hardest to progress forward against the winds jealous wrath.
That’s how I feel about university life. To everyone else, I am a normal person being pulled in all directions by the beginning of university, yet I am trying my hardest to push against the wind, in a direction it doesn’t want me to go. For me, that is symbolic of the grief I carry with me. I want to be honest and tell you that it is hard not being able to call mum and tell her about my day. It is hard to crawl into bed and be awake at night with all the things I want to tell her.
It is hard when my housemates get calls from their mums, and they start saying that they should actually call their mum, really. I want to add a positive spin, but I dont think that is necessary for this truth.
I don’t talk about my grief to most people my own age. They do not have the tools to speak about it, and are often clumsy with my heart. I cannot hold it against them; how can I? I am so painfully grateful they have not experienced all that I have.
They say to me “I am sorry but I am really bad at conversations like this”, or sometimes they quite simply forget the moment that changed my life forever.
Like with the wind, there is this invisible shoving, pulling, pressing that I deal with every day. I channel it by journalling, talking with you all on our Instagram, sharing posts, and a lot of writing.These tools are invaluable because I like being my honest authentic self; I just wish there were few more people in my life who truly understood what my student life looked like.
Returning to university has been tough; but not because of university. I love waking up early and having somewhere to go. The topics we are talking about in my lectures interest me greatly, and I am so desperate to learn that I cannot wait for more. I am in conversation after conversation with people from the grief community, and am even planning to write my dissertation on it. Yet beneath all this joy and excitement is a beating heart that aches to share all of these with the most important person of all.
I feel like I have been holding back on enjoyment recently; because the more I enjoy, the more I have to hold in my heart in silent conversation with my mum.
As I wrote this, “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys came on shuffle. There is simple irony in this song for me, because I used to play it all the time in 2018, the year we lost Mum. I used to hold tightly and fearfully to the lyrics, because how did I know who and what I’d be without Mum by my side? 3 years later, and I can see know that I’ll never know who I am without my mum, because even in this life she never saw for me, she is everywhere I look.
Be kind and patient with yourselves, my friends. Prioritise your mental and physical wellbeing as much as you can.
Sending you love,