Everyone says first birthdays and first anniversaries following deaths are the hardest - I know that well. But, of course, once again I learn that all that I know about death and grief is at least very different to my experience of the death of my mother. Those feelings of intense grief and "blurriness" are back this morning. As I think through my last week, I discover that my reactions to people and my ability to relate well shows strong signs of grief. And I try and be gentle on myself - it IS the day of my mother's birthday.
I think about last year. I organised to have mum over for dinner - with dad and a close friend who my parents know well who was staying with me at the time. The day before mum cancelled coming. Dad, Sonja and I still had dinner. I don't know how many times Dad and I have had dinner together when we were meant to be having dinner with mum as well. A good decision many years ago now means that we have gone ahead with things even if mum chose not to come, even when it's her birthday dinner! So Dad and I went out on Saturday night this year - not actually in memory of mum's birthday, actually in celebration of him purchasing a house ... but it did feel a bit interesting - we are out together for dinner 2 days before mum's birthday, without mum and rather than being strange, it is unfortunately quite normal.
I think today the thing I am saddest by is the lack of ability mum had to be able to enjoy things like her birthdays while she was here. Her anxiety around events was so great that she sabotaged the potential of them being good by making such issues around them that any potential for them to be free and easy is gone. So unfortunately mum's birthday without spending it with her is surprisingly normal. A sadness for me today as I think about this is the tendency I have towards similar behaviour - mostly not as extreme as mum's but still in that direction. I long for change in that.
Another thought this morning as I thought about what I'm feeling is a statement that was made to me on the day of mum's death - you are so lucky. mmm ... someone who was with me heard it more than I did. Not the words to say to someone whose mum has just died - but said by someone in intense grief themselves. However, those sentiments reiterated by the same person a few days ago hit me more. Indeed, there are consequences of mum's death that indeed find me in a fortunate position - one which few people of my age and stage of life find themselves in. Some of that is because of mum's death - some because of the consequences of timing decisions that mean that things were in the state that they were at the time of her death. I am grateful and feel immensely blessed and freed by the financial impact of mum's death. I am amazed by that in more ways than I would want to talk about publicly. But the circumstances that lead to me being in this situation do not leave me thinking the words "you are so lucky" are the appropriate words.