When you’re waiting for something, eagerly anticipating the arrival of your favourite season or perhaps a much awaited holiday, three months seems like an absolute age. In the grand scheme of things, three months isn’t very long.
The average life expectancy of a British female is 82.8 years. Which is to say, if I’m your average female (and trust me, I most certainly am) then I’ll probably live to see a grand total of 331 lots of three months.
It seems like a lot of time, right? But I promise you, it’s not.
What were you doing towards the end of January? Do you remember? Well, whether your memory is up to scratch or not, that was just three months ago.
And before that, what were you doing towards the end of October? That was three months before three months ago. Two lots of three months.
Now, think about that space of time between the end of October and the end of January. Think about it really hard. What did you do? Where did you go? Did you do any of your favourite things? Did you go to the cinema? Did you catch up with friends? Did you eat your favourite food? Did you tell your husband/wife/parent/friend that loved them every single day? Did you laugh so hard that you cried?
I’ll tell you what I did in that space of time, between October and January.
Towards the end of October, I was in Goa. I had a really nice time with new friends. I got a fish tattooed on my ribcage. I saw a few pretty sunsets and ate a delicious bowl of penne arrabbiata. I can still taste it now. Not because it was mouth-wateringly fantastic, but because I promise that if you manage to hunt down a half decent bowl of penne arrabbiata in India, then you will remember it until your dying day!
It’s like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
Come the beginning of November, I was back in Kerala. My days were a haze of zooming around on the back of friends’ motorbikes running errands with them, falling asleep at the local arcade while watching mind-numbingly boring games of Fifa (but secretly enjoying it because spending time with friends is the best) and going on illicit date nights to McDonald’s.
Towards the end of November, I came home. My stepfather picked me up from Sophia Gardens in the middle of the night and we drove home. The next day jetlag had me up before the birds, so I baked a cake using Rosie’s recipe to take to my friend’s house later that day for our annual Christmas get together (in November, yep, it turns out grown-ups are busy bees). Nobody ate any of my cake. I don’t really know why because it was actually a fantastic cake – one of the best I’ve ever made! Anyway, we talked and we laughed and we played games and ate Cathedral City Extra Mature cheddar cheese.
A few days later, I flew to Riga. I went with my cousin and her boyfriend, and it was a wonderful little trip. A bit of a shock to the system after the ridiculously hot Indian climate I’d grown accustomed to at that point, but I packed some fluffy pink Stormtrooper socks so I soldiered on. Some would say I was a trooper…
Then came Christmas. My whole family came to my house, as they do every year, and we celebrated. Then came New Year. I guess I worked? I don’t really remember.
In between all of the above, I probably went to the cinema a good handful of times (hey Cineworld Unlimited card!), ate too many fajitas, pasta and countless bowls of dal and maybe saw some friends once or twice.
If you’re a long-time reader (or at least, a three month-time reader) of this blog, you’ll know what happened after Poland.
It wasn’t a shock, but it certainly wasn’t expected either. It didn’t completely floor me, as some would expect, but it certainly shook me to my core. It put a lot of things into perspective, and in her passing, I’ve inadvertantly rewired my way of thinking, my way of processing.
Let’s talk about the three months since then. January until now.
After she passed, there was a lot of coming and going at the house. Family came, doctors came, the Pastor came. We were drowning in sympathy cards, most of them from people I’d never met or even heard of before. About a million sympathy messages came through by text, Facebook, Instagram, email, you name it.
On the evening of the day she passed, I went to a Harry Potter quiz with some friends. I didn’t tell them about what happened, just because I wanted a little bit of normality for one more day. I didn’t want sad eyes and pitying looks, half-smiles and awkward glances. After I got home that night, I told everybody.
Two days later I went for dinner with a different set of friends. We went to Pizza Express and I had dough balls followed by the leggera padana, no dessert and a bottle of coke.
Three days later I went back to work at the restaurant, but I left after just 2 hours. This wasn’t because I was particularly emotionally fragile, but because I had one hell of a cold and sort of accidentally overdosed on cough syrup on the way into work so was falling asleep while standing.
Her birthday was on the 11th of February, the same day Wales played England in the Six Nations. My brother and his family, my uncle and his family, and my unofficially adopted grandmother all came over that night and we looked at old photos, reminisced about “old times” and ordered Chinese, featuring my mother’s favourite dish of king prawns and green peppers in black bean sauce.
We held her funeral on 13th February.
Since then, I’ve been to the cinema 9 times and could name each and every film if you asked me. I’ve ordered Domino’s three times, had Sunday dinner four times (only twice on a Sunday, I am a rebel) and met with friends for dinner once (because like I said earlier, ‘grown up’ is actually a synonym for busy bee). I could go on, but I’m not going to.
Do you see the difference between my recollection of what happened between October and January compared to January until now?
Before, my memories were focused around big events. Holidays and little getaways and celebrations. I associated specific years with which country I visited, as opposed to the year itself (i.e. for me, 2011 is not 2011, but the year I went to Peru).
I’ve always been so focused on the big things, the things that make you go WOW for just a split second, that I’ve neglected the little things, those little nuggets of goodness that interweave themselves together to make a nice and cosy little familiar blanket that makes your life feel consistently WOW.
Now I appreciate the value of time. There are 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour and 60 seconds in a minute. Approximately 7,776,000 of those tiny little seconds make up three months. And I want to make each and every one of those seconds worth something.
At some point on Monday it’ll be approximately 7,776,000 seconds since my mother took her last breath. I will have spent 7,776,000 seconds without her here. When she passed away, she was just shy of having seen 200 lots of 3 months. Out of the 331 lots she hypothetically should have got, that doesn’t seem like a lot, right?
I don’t want to sound cliché, but life is short. It really, really is.
Tomorrow isn’t a certainty for any one of us. As much as we’d like it to be, nobody is guaranteed those 331 lots of three months.
You need to make every second count, and not necessarily in those too good to believe ways you read about on motivational posters and Pick Me Up magazine.
Tell someone you love them, order that dessert, make time for your friends, climb that mountain (figurative and literal), learn to salsa dance, change your screensaver to something that makes you smile, take yourself out for dinner, smile at a stranger, go to the cinema every single day, take that leap of faith, adopt a mountain goat, learn how to make candles, do everything you’ve always wanted to do and more.
For the next three months, take note of the little things that make you smile. That cute baby who smiled at you on the bus, the double rainbow you saw after getting drenched in the rain, the pair of Christmas socks you totally forgot about until you stumbled upon them by chance (sprouts with Christmas hats, hell yeah!), that memory from almost a year ago that still makes you smile like an absolute tool.
Remember it all, take note of every little detail, no matter how mundane, and I promise you, you’ll be so much better off for it.