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Death is a funny thing.
Except it’s not. It’s not funny at all, and whoever first said it has a warped sense of humour.
Yeah, I know, they probably meant funny peculiar as opposed to funny ha-ha, but I don’t care. It’s still a stupid way of describing it.
Because death is not funny.
Death is a cloud. A big, black cloud.
It creeps up on you little by little. Sometimes you notice it, sometimes it springs up out of nowhere. In both cases by the time the cloud makes its presence known, it’s too late. You can’t do anything to stop it. It swoops down, shrouds you in this big, dark mass, causes havoc for five minutes and then BAM, it’s gone and all is peaceful again.
The cloud has gone, but it’s taken somebody with it. Somebody you love.
For a while, although the big black cloud is gone there’s a greyish haze lingering.
It’s the kind of haze you see in your typical horror movie scene. You know, the car breaks down in the middle of a misty forest and they get out to try and flag down that extremely suspicious looking truck that’s hurtling towards them with headlights fully lit. And the mist outside is really, really creepy.
It’s like Dementor mist.
This mist, it causes confusion, turns everything upside down and inside out for a while. Things that used to make you happy suddenly fill you with sadness, and the things which used to bring tears now bring cackles of laughter. It’s bizarre. Totally and utterly bizarre.
I think a lot of people subconsciously associate funerals with the end of death. I mean, that’s what a funeral is, right? It’s symbolic. You’re putting someone to rest, eternal rest. So on paper that should be the end of it.
But the mist hangs around long after the funeral.
It’s still here now two months later, though nowhere near as strong as it once was. Do you know what’s not here anymore though? The support. The little messages from people saying they’re thinking of us, the condescending looks and questions of “how are you doing?” and the offers of “if there’s anything you need, just ask“.
I’ve never understood why people say that. And now I’ve been on the receiving end of offer after offer after offer, it’s even more confusing.
If there’s anything you need…anything at all…
What about a car? Will you buy me a Mercedes? What about if I really, really want authentic Spanish chorizo? Will you fly to Madrid just to bring some back for me? How about a trip to Vegas and a million pounds spending money?
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, because I do. But in almost every single case of people making this empty statement, it doesn’t have any substance. It’s just words. Words we’ve been conditioned over time to say when somebody loses someone they love.
When you lose a parent, people want to take care of you.
They can’t help it – it’s human nature. But take it from me, as somebody who does not deal well with affection or public displays of emotion, not everybody wants to be taken care of.
Some people cope the best when they’re alone. Completely and totally alone in every sense of the word. Physically, emotionally and mentally.
From the outside it may seem selfish and kind of messed up that I went on a two-week holiday completely alone just three weeks after my mother passed away.
But it was exactly what I needed.
Being constantly surrounded by people dropping in and out of my house without pre-warning, the phone ringing at least once an hour, non-stop messages on Facebook from people I haven’t spoken to in almost a decade – it wasn’t an ideal situation for me. It was stressful and annoying.
There was one day in particular where all I wanted to do was catch up on an episode of This Is Us. I was home alone and started watching at about 11am. Do you know when I finished this one hour long episode?? 5pm the next day.
So those two weeks? They were absolute bliss.
I was able to do what I wanted, go wherever I wanted and eat at whatever time of day I wanted. Because in case you didn’t know, when somebody dies you will be asked at least seven times a day “Have you eaten?” And let me tell you, the death of the whole entire human race would not put me off my food.
Travelling alone means that, most importantly, I was able to grieve. Because being surrounded by everybody else’s grief actually made it more difficult for me to process my own.
Wandering through the Balkans completely solo, switching off from life back home, was the best way for me personally to deal with everything.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day.
I’m 24 years old and now I’m motherless.
Actually no. I have a mother, she’s just not on this Earth anymore.
Either way, I didn’t have anybody to buy flowers or chocolate or even a card for yesterday. And it actually wasn’t that hard. Apart from a bit of shaky moment when Supermarket Flowers came on radio on the bus (on Mothers Day of all days – really?!), it was fine. I worked the lunch and dinner shift at the restaurant I work at, served table after table of families out for a nice Mother’s Day dinner and didn’t want to punch a single person in the face. I surprised myself. Good job me.
I scrolled through status after status on Facebook, tweet after tweet on Twitter and photo after photo on Instagram of people celebrating their mothers, dead and alive, and didn’t want to punch any of them either! In fact, I even liked some of them.
It seems somebody has kidnapped Bitter Resentful Rhiannon and replaced her with Nonchalant IDGAF Rhiannon.
In my non-annoyance of Mothers Day and all it represents, I realised that in the grand scheme of things one highly commercialised (albeit lovely) day isn’t that big of a deal. It doesn’t bother me too much that she wasn’t here for it.
I’ve never celebrated my father on Father’s Day and, call me a rebel if you wish, but this year I didn’t even have pancakes on Pancake Day.
What does bother me is the behind the scenes things she won’t be around for.
She won’t meet the person I end up spending my life with (unless of course I go back and end up marrying my childhood sweetheart from when I was 4 years old but the chances of that are slim to none). I won’t have a Mother of the Bride on my wedding day. I’ll never taste her spaghetti bolognese ever again. I won’t be able to borrow her clothes and annoy her by never putting them back. My future children won’t be able to get excited at the though of going to Grandma’s house after school. There won’t be any Mother-Daughter shopping days or lunch dates.
And that’s what I’ve been grieving for. The lost opportunities, the things that won’t ever happen.
I’m not grieving for the fact she died, because in all honesty she wasn’t living much of a life towards the end, and at least now she doesn’t have to suffer anymore. But in her no longer suffering, those of us left on the Earth take the burden. But it’s a different kind of pain, and this pain won’t ever heal.
But, just like the Dementor mist, it will fade.
I can already feel it fading. More and more I find myself thinking on memories of her with a smile instead of a grimace, the knot in my stomach reducing with each day that passes.
And these days I strangely take comfort in the words of Ed Sheeran, which is something I never thought I’d ever say.
A heart that is broke is a heart that’s been loved
My heart is kind of broken right now. Nobody will ever be able to do an Atomic Kitten on me and make it whole again, but that’s perfectly okay because for it to break, it needs to have been whole to begin with.