It’s been three years.

Three whole years since my mum passed away. She was 53 years old. It was heart failure.

When I remember my mum, I remember someone who was strong, wore a full face of make-up, and walked with purpose. She seemed to know things intuitively. It was almost like a sixth sense. She was compassionate and was one of these people who would spend her last penny on you just to make you happy. She was an expert when it came to dirty jokes and witticisms and could talk for hours upon hours. Everyone knew her and she knew everyone. She was full of life.  However, there was a wildness in her too; some internal fire that refused to be put out. She wasn’t perfect. I suppose none of us are. We had our arguments, fell out on several occasions, and bordered on hating each other at times. It never lasted. Time passed and we always reverted back to our natural state; love.

I won’t lie and say it was an easy love because it wasn’t. There would always be some sort of conflict because we clashed personality-wise. Both of us suffered from depression and anxiety and would sometimes take things out on the other one. It wasn’t right but it was real. We were flawed individuals and the pressure of living with a terminal diagnosis weighed heavily on both of us. Not knowing how many days she had left took its toll and the person who was my mum started to fade away until the only though that was on her mind was death. It was inevitable and it would be soon. No matter how hard I tried to distract her with different things, she’d always say that it wasn’t worth it. That word has nestled deep and was immovable. Her life had ended well before she passed away because, in her eyes, all hope was lost. This broke my heart.

I couldn’t face losing her but here I was with no choice. That day eventually came and I was beyond devastated. I spent the whole day with her in her coma-like state but it was all too much for me. So, I journeyed home to feed the cat and gather a few provisions, only to get that dreaded phone call.

‘She’s away. She’s gone.’

Words can’t describe how deep those feelings ran but I’ll try any way. Well, it felt like my heart had been cleaved in two and I was choking on the air, struggling to breathe. I was blind with tears and I couldn’t stand up because all the strength had left me. It was around 21:20 and the dark night seemed to crush me until I was a rolled into a foetal ball on the floor unable to cope with this version of reality. We’d call each other every night and discuss our hopes, dreams, and the mundane days in-between. We’d laugh. We’d cry. We’d share stories. All that was gone in a moment, and a piece of my soul with it.

Memories are all I have left.

They’re both a gift and a curse, memories. Cleverly disguised but they hurt all the same. They remind me of times I’ll never be able to recreate or future experiences that’ll never be. Every time I look at photographs, I see a ghost. A life once lived now trapped on endless sheets of glossy paper, moving slowly, and intermittently as I flip through them. Going nowhere. I just need to settle for the stories already told and cherish them.

My mum’s story came to an end three long years ago, but it is one that I’ll always remember with deepest love. Even when the details get blurry and the memories fade, I hope I’ll remember the warmth and joy at the core of it all. To me that’s all that matters.

I miss you, Mum. I always will.

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