I’ve always been that person. The one who rolls their eyes at the “Miss you so much, hope you’re partying up in Heaven xoxo” Facebook statuses on Christmas/Mother’s Day/birthdays. The one who thinks selfies with gravestones are morbid and unnecessary.
Dead people don’t have Facebook; it’s probably quite hard to get WiFi connection that high up. Although there’s apparently WiFi on Everest base camp these days so I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Big Man gets on the blower to Sky and sorts it all out. It’s probably pretty low on His to-do list, though. A few knocks below “eradicate world hunger“, “strike ISIS down in a clap of thunder” and “punish JJ Abrams for that Lost finale” I’d say.
It’s taken a full-frontal blow to the face dished out by the Grim Reaper himself to make me realise that people have different ways of dealing and coming to terms with grief. For some, that’s wearing black for 7 years and blacking out their front windows. For others, it’s writing statuses addressed to a dead person (many of whom didn’t even have Facebook when they’re alive anyway…). Who am I to judge? I’m still not fully onboard with the graveyard selfies, mind but hey, to each his own.
I should have known this would be mine.
The writing thing. When I was younger I used to write letters all the freaking time. Letters to myself in the future, letters to myself in the past, letters to you when I was mad at you, letters to my sister – the one I didn’t know, letters to friends, ex-friends and people I hadn’t even met yet (Dear Future Husband, 12-year old me says hi!). Strangers.
They were letters I’d never send. Letters I kept hidden away until eventually, not so long ago, I shoved them all unceremoniously into a big green recycling bag and sent them off on their merry way. I thought I’d said goodbye to my obsessive letter-writing self a while ago.
BUT HEY, GUESS WHO’S BACK!
I bought a book last year on Amazon – Love Letters to the Dead. I only made it through a few chapters, but I don’t think it matters now. This is my own Letters to Dead People.
Sunday marked six whole months. Six months since I last saw you alive. Six months since I walked upstairs to bed with a “Goodnight everyone” and nonchalant wave at the room. I don’t know why I said everyone when there was just the two of you in the room.
I did look back at you, though, one last time as I walked up the stairs. I didn’t usually do that. In hindsight, I think something was telling me you didn’t have long; that you were going to slip away and this was my last chance.
If I’d definitively known it’d be the last chance, though, I would have said so much more.
I would have said how sorry I was…
Sorry for that one time when I was still only 10 or 11 and my phone bill was over £100. Karma has come right around to bite me on the bum, though, because I accidentally made a 1-hour phone call to India a few weeks ago. £100 for one single phone call! And I’m allegedly a grown-up now so yeah, that’s my responsibility I guess.
Sorry for how often I didn’t come home before dark. Although in all fairness to me, it was ‘before dark’ at the time of leaving wherever I was. And dark in terms of daylight is subjective – it’s a different shade for everyone, right?
Sorry for all those times I forgot to turn off the light before leaving the room. Or I forgot to lock the door. Or I forgot to switch off the plug. Or I left the bath running and fell asleep (it was just the once, I swear!).
Sorry for how impatient I was when you started losing your speech and struggled to string a sentence together. I should have been more patient. I should have listened harder. I shouldn’t have pretended I couldn’t understand.
Sorry that I didn’t tell you I loved you half as much as I should have.
Sorry that we stopped watching Neighbours together. It was our thing. Then Wimbledon happened, and I went to Peru for six weeks, and by the time I came back there was way too much to catch up on and I moved out to Uni and we just stopped and I wish I could go back. I wish I’d made more of an effort to come home and watch it. When I go to Ramsay Street next year (IT WILL HAPPEN!) I’ll think of you and those Saturdays and I’ll smile.
Sorry that I didn’t read To Kill A Mockingbird to you. I know how much you wanted to read it before you lost mobility in your hands. I should have read it to you and I wanted to – I planned to. But I didn’t. I never got around to it, and I regret that more than I thought I’d ever regret not reading a stupid book. Maybe you can meet up with Harper Lee up there and she can fill you in on the blanks?
I would have asked you so many questions.
Questions I didn’t know I don’t know the answer to.
What was your favourite color? I stand by my answer that it’s orange. You loved orange Smarties and starbursts way too much for it to be anything else. You even dyed your hair orange that one time and tried to pass it off as copper – remember that? Still, since you’ve died people I’ve heard purple and blue are top contenders too. But orange. It’s got to be orange, right?
What was your favorite concert? I could probably get the answer from my stepdad, or your brother, or one of your friends now if I really wanted to, but that wouldn’t be the same. I want to hear it from you.
Then there’s the more juicy, personal questions. Who was your first love? How did you know you were in love? Why did you get divorced?
And then: THE BIG ONE. Why did you lie to me for four years, telling me my feet were a size 6 when they were clearly size 4?! I tripped over a lot. So thanks for that.
I would have thanked you…
For when you got me a mug that one Easter which read “If I didn’t have you as my daughter, I’d choose you as my friend”. The mug got smashed about a decade ago, but I still remember. You told me you meant it because I “was weird, and a nice person“. A back-handed compliment if ever I heard one, but I’ll take it! I wish we could have been friends. Grown-up friends.
For instilling a sense of worth in me. For raising me to know right from wrong, to understand that I am enough and that I don’t need validation from anyone.
For giving me my name. I hated it growing up. I thought it was way too common (there were four Rhiannon’s in my school year!) but now that I’ve travelled, now that I’ve been met on more than one occasion with a “Wow, what a pretty name – is that Irish?“, and now that I’m old enough to truly appreciate Stevie Nicks, I love it.
For pushing me to go to University. Not that I’ve really done much with my Degree yet, but just being able to say I have one is good enough. Also, I can claim to be multilingual now, which is pretty darn cool.
For fighting for as long as you did. For leaving a legacy. For being the best mother anyone could ever have asked for.
If there’s no Facebook in Heaven, they sure as heck don’t have WordPress. So my best bet is to hope you’re reading this over my shoulder. And I bet you are. Because you always were nosy like that.
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