The way I've been feeling recently is quite similar to the weather. Yesterday I was working on a new design for my next book, sitting by the Rayburn wearing many layers of clothes to keep warm, looking out on driving rain sometimes skewed at a 45% angle across the windows. Even the cats were drenched every time they went out, if only for a moment as and when nature called.
|Arlo with his new punk hairdo|
|Just needs the addition of cheese dumplings and tada...|
Since my mum died I've been trying to stay positive and not dwell on stuff, so that the practical side of things could be addressed. Mother-daughter relationships are never easy and ours certainly wasn't, but rather than thinking about what might have been I wanted to feel ok about her dying and funeral.
On Easter Saturday I went with P to the green burial ground and we removed the single hand-tied bunch of flowers from Lily's grave and planted wild flowers in the spaces between the sods of earth on top of it. It was a lovely day and the place seemed friendly and full of burgeoning life - trees with fat buds ready to burst into bloom, dogwoods, their red and green wands bearing spring green shoots, lupins nearly a foot high, a few primroses, bluebells and cowslips and lots of the more mundane wild flowers like buttercup, campion and daisies just waking up and peeping through last year's dead grass.
We sat on the bench at the other side of the field and looked across to the grave freshly filled in beside a young oak. We talked about which plants we could bring back from our garden in Wales to plant there - foxgloves, pulmonarias, more primroses, potentilla, snowdrops, forget-me-nots and Lily's favourite daffodils. I felt content that she was at peace in a beautiful space in nature, close to our home, where I could visit and feel alright.
I've noticed that grief is not a tangible thing, it stalks and catches me unawares when I'm least expecting it. In the three weeks since my mother died I find myself crying at the most insignificant small things on television I wouldn't usually bat an eyelid at. I can't watch the news without being devastated by man's inhumanity. I often feel there's something I should be doing, the panic rises as I feel someone will be annoyed with me, before I eventually realise that that someone was my mother and it was the time I'd phone her in the evening. Sometimes it's just a vague sensation of emptiness, reget and sadness that engulfs me - yesterday was one of those days.
The past five years since Lily came to live close to us in York were a testing time. Being an only child, my mother's fears, infirmity and neediness weighed heavily on my shoulders and necessitated a big lifestyle shift for us all. She insisted that I ring her every evening, which doesn't sound like an unreasonable demand, but I dreaded the calls, knowing that there would be yet another list of complaints about her health and domestic situation, which I was powerless to improve. P and I left no stone unturned trying to lay on every possible thing Lily might have wanted - care, manicures, hairdressers, domestics, shopping, but what she really wanted was to have her daughter 24/7 and that was were I failed miserably.
There's no happiness without sadness, they're the two halves of the whole. So I'm approaching the next few months with caution, trying to stay well and work towards a balanced view of my relationship with my mother whilst acknowledging that the doubts, guilt and regrets are all part of the healing process.
PS As I was writing this a rainbow reflected on my laptop screen from a crystal hanging in the window. Delighted, I grabbed my camera to capture the moment, before realising I could hardly see for tears - see what I mean, it creeps up on you when you least expect it.