My mum died in Middlesex Hospital in Goodge Street over fifteen years ago. She was 55. I kept on expecting her to get better so it was a world-break when I walked in and found her on that bed with a daffodil laid on her.
I often go back over how it all panned out and look for things to blame myself for. I think that’s human nature. For a long time I was angry with her boyfriend at the time, as if somehow his behaviour could have affected the outcome. It couldn’t have, but we look for things to blame. She was an extremely rare blood type. She got a super-bug when she was weak. It all spiralled so quickly. And then suddenly, still in my twenties, she was gone.
Maybe I could’ve stayed in touch with her friends, but it was all so unfamiliar and emotionally complicated and hard. I couldn’t quite calibrate the world. All my priorities got spun around. I didn’t tell my agent either. I missed meetings and blew on the wind for a long time and likely did my career tons of damage, as momentum is important and I lost it. I lost whatever means I had to contact old friends of hers too. I had my phone cut off and lost her number. I lost the mobile with all the old numbers in the back of a 3am minicab. I dug a little hole for myself for a decent number of years, drowned myself in work and booze, found whatever ways I could find to avoid looking at the fact that the stabilisers had been taken off and just existed numb for a decade.
The last half a decade has been about regrouping, and a year off the booze plus the fact I couldn’t lose myself in work because there was none last year – that has really helped me come to terms with myself in the world without parents. I even started to go back to Jersey, my old home, and sort through things that were way too intense back then.
No matter how antagonistic or complicated your relationship with your mum might be, you first came to consciousness attached to the inside of her. Her movements and behaviours with yours were the first interactions you learnt. You ate her food and her teeth. There’s a deep connection, that can get broken immediately, and will always get broken eventually if things go in the natural order. And we can find ourselves either defining ourselves by our differences from that first great influence, or by our similarities. “I’m nothing like her!”/”I’m just like her!”
Her friends were very important to her. There’s a point of contact we have. And yet I lost touch with every one of her friends. I don’t know if they’re living or dead. I just redefined myself separately from them, as it was too hard to look at them and know she wasn’t there. It opened up all the cans of worms. Could I have done something to change the outcome?
This morning I left my number at the reception of a block where her boyfriend used to live, checking that he’s ok. This afternoon I got a call from one of her dear friends. She sounds unchanged. I’ll be seeing her next week. Her boyfriend is still alive thankfully but he’s in a home now. I’m going to go and see him as well. Time to reconnect with some of the stuff I put away to deal with later on. It seems it’s “later on” right now.