I remember when she told me and my brother. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
My mum had cancer. My world was crashing around me I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I was so young, my brother even younger and she was our everything.
I felt so angry because when she told us she told us with our very close family, friends and their children and at the time I hated the fact she had given me and my brother the worse news of our life. I couldn’t believe she hadn’t given us this news alone.
Looking back now I understand why she did it. She wanted my brother and I to have support. She wanted us to not feel alone, and have a friend to go through this with.
Watching someone you love fake a smile and tell you everything is okay is heartbreaking. I watched her go in and out of hospital for chemo. Knowing that If I had a cold or a tummy bug I would have to go stay at my dads because she had no immune system.
I would watch her continue work, right through even when she was at her worst. The constant hospital trips took there to toll on her, taking away who she was slowly and surely I was losing my mum to a struggle I could do nothing to help or stop.
I would distance myself, I didn’t want to see my mum ill, it made me feel uncomfortable.
It’s horrible to say that and when I was younger I hated that I felt like this. How dare I think of my own feelings, how dare I not want to spend time with my mum, when she was dying in front of me and I was helpless.
Her health deteriorated and I watched as her hospital visits became longer and longer. She ended up being bedridden just before my 15th birthday, she pushed to stay out the hospice, she wanted to spend my birthday with me and for that I was thankful.
A day after my birthday she was taken to the hospice she was giving up, she had been fighting for so long she wanted to be at peace. I would visit her the next few day thinking she would be home soon, but little did I know the end was coming.
Her last day I remember so clearly. We took our afternoon trip to the hospice, most of my family were there. I didn’t think anything of it.
I chatted with everyone, happy to see family I hadn’t see in a while. Then it was time to go and I turned to my mum and said “See you later, love you”, and that was it. I went home. I don’t even know if she heard me or knew it was me speaking. Until I grew older I didn’t realise how much pain medication she was on just to make her comfortable.
I thought I would see her tomorrow. But I wouldn’t.
That morning at around 2.30am I was woken up to news that would rip me in two.
My heart was empty. My mum was gone. I needed my mum, I couldn’t do it without her she needed to be there she needed to guide me in life, smiling with me at my achievements, comforting me with my mistakes. It shattered my world and I thought I could never stop hurting.
Death is a funny thing, see. You never heal. You never forget. It just gets easier day by day, week by week. I bottled my feelings up and never told people how much I was hurting, until I broke down.
I went for counselling and it helped a little but I couldn’t open up. I couldn’t let someone in.
When I closed my eyes I saw her face, ill and fragile. The image of her in that hospice bed filling my nightmares.
It took years to get to the point where I could remember the good times, the times when she smiled. And that slowly healed the emptiness she had left.
The memories helped me cope with her death, they helped me realise that I am doing her proud, no matter my mistakes.
My mum, although she wasn’t in my life for long, she made me the person I am today. I am strong because of her.
Words by Frankie Blight