Living without my Mum

This was a very hard page to write for my Web Site. My Mum was a very special person, I guess most people think that of their Mums, the only difference with me was, she wasn’t my Mum for very long, well not on this earth anyway, I only had her for 5 years, 2 months and 29 days, or 273 weeks to be precise, it doesn’t seem very long, looking back on it.

She died of an aggressive form of breast cancer, which she had for five years, during that time she went into remission twice, but the cancer kept coming back, she had 5 operations, 3 lots of chemotherapy, and 2 lots of radiotherapy, and spent lots of time in various hospitals and eventually in a hospice. My Mum was so strong, and so aware of what was happening, so alert and fought her cancer to the bitter end. I just felt she didn’t want to go at all. She loved life, and her doctor said the thing that kept her alive for so long, was her love of her family, and her love of life, she was very brave about the whole thing, such an inspiration in the way she handled her cruel illness.

Up to that point I hadn’t had much to do with death, although I had seen dead birds and insects in the garden, and animals lying by the side of the road. It seemed to be something distant, something unrelated to me, like in a fairy tale, or something on the news. It didn’t seem like something that came right up close, to touch my own life.

I was upset and cross with my Mum for being so ill, I needed her not to be ill, as she got sicker and sicker I felt very bad about being cross with her, as well as feeling upset about seeing her like this, and her being unable to do things with me anymore.
When it became an inescapable fact that my Mum was going to die, as she had received lots of treatment, and wasn’t responding any more, my Dad, gave me a sketch book, and asked me to draw pictures of how I felt about what was happening with my Mum. I did this, and at bedtimes we would talk about what they were of, and how I felt about things, and we talked about my fears, and worries for the future.

I can remember thinking at the start of my Mum's illness perhaps if I don’t talk about it, maybe it won’t really happen, and will go away, and it won’t happen to me, but my Dad said unfortunately, that wasn’t going to be, and so we talked, and in a way I guess I started the grieving process right there and then, with my Mum still living with us at home. My Dad introduced me to a lovely story Water Bugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney, which we read at her funeral, I added a bit at the end.

We usually did our talking at story time just before I went to bed, (story time is and was then a big thing in my life, my Dad used to read to me for an hour each night, now I can read to him) sometimes I felt I wanted to show my Dad the drawings, and ask lots of questions about what was going to happen, and how it was going to happen, and we talked a lot, and other times I didn’t want to much, my Dad never forced me, he was gentle and kind when he spoke to me, and because he obviously believed my Mum was going to go to a special place called Heaven, and she wouldn't feel any more pain, when she got there, it comforted me a great deal, especially as she was suffering so much at the time, I knew he was talking from his heart and saying what he truly believed, there was no sense of uncertainty and fear anymore, this made it much easier for me to keep talking about my Mum’s death openly when I needed to, and wanted more answers to my questions as I watched her slowly get worse over the next few weeks.
I felt scared at the thought of living without my Mum, how was I going to manage, who was going to look after me and do my washing, feed me, and take care of me, my Dad reassured me, that he was going to do it, he had promised Mum he would, and he told me not to worry.

A few days before my Mum died, Dad introduced finger puppets one bedtime, each one represented a different member of our family, and we talked about how we felt about the things that were affecting all of us, we played with the puppets and acted out happy things that had happened like holidays and birthday's, and we acted out how we thought we might behave when the moment of my Mum’s death came, and how we might feel at her funeral. This helped a lot, I could see that this was something that was affecting all of us, and not just happening to me, we all had sad feelings, and we all were dreading what lay ahead.

I was frightened one night when my Dad became upset about my Mum leaving us, but that evening taught me a valuable lesson, I knew it was ok to be upset and show your feelings, even adults are allowed to do that my Dad said, after all it was an outward expression of how you felt inside, about the person we were loosing. Finally the cancer won, it took my precious Mum, whom I had only known for 273 weeks.

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Hardly a day passes that I don’t think about my Mum, I just wish she was here to cuddle me, and I wonder what she would have said or done in different situations.

There are so many things I have wanted to tell her over the last 5 years since she left us. I wanted to tell her how much I love her and miss her, I wanted to tell her of how upset I am when she is not with me on my birthdays or at Christmas.

I wanted to tell her all about changing schools because some of the children were picking on me because of my disability, and about how it felt to fall off a horse for the first time. Sometimes I go to sleep and dream about my Mum, and when I wake up, I find I have been crying in my sleep.

It is so very upsetting not being able to say all these things to my Mum, it feels as if part of my life is missing now, maybe it is up in Heaven with her, and when I join her I will be whole again

All About Me
What Katy did

Water Bugs and Dragonflies
Living with hemiplegia

A Portrait of my Mum taken by my Dad
when I was small

This is a picture I drew when I was 4 years old,
when we thought my Mum's cancer had gone.

A self portrait of me aged 5, missing my Mum
when she had just died.