So much has happened since you crept gracefully out of life. I know you’ll be ecstatic that I finally mustered up the courage to walk away from that relationship that was so damaging to me, that you knew has become a mirror image of your marriage. After you died I tried many things to fix it but in the end I knew that to stay with him would be like a betrayal of you. So I left and it was the best decision of my life. You’ll be proud of me, I think, for doing the thing you were never quite able to do.
I’ve started singing. I know! I wish you’d lived long enough, and been well enough, to come and see my choir. It’s been a lifeline for me and I now understand how singing was such an emotional outlet for you, a release of all the feelings you took care to hide from everyone. When illness took away your singing voice I saw how painful it was for you; now I understand something of how soul-destroying that must have been. I would love, so much, to be able to sing with you. Oh, that we could have the chance to do it.
I cook like you. Throw it all in, one pot dinners. My spaghetti bolognese and moussaka taste like yours but I’ve never managed to match your roast potatoes – although let’s be honest, no one could ever match your roast potatoes. I can never eat cheese on toast (with seasoning salt, of course) without thinking about you, with a smile. The same goes for chicken noodle soup, our comfort illness food.
I’ve had a horrible year, mum. I’ve wanted more than anything to curl up on your lap at your end of the sofa and have you make it all better; there were times when I thought about coming to find you in the sweet hereafter or wherever you may be. I know you’ll understand that, I think you felt that way more often than you ever said. You knew there was a dark shade to me and without you to talk to about it I’ve felt lost. I’m coming through the other side of it now. Being a strong woman is as much my strength and yet my weakness as it was for you and I’m learning when to ask for help, and accept it. I’ve learnt so much from what you did and couldn’t do.
I wish you could have known B. You’d like him ever such a lot. He’s even got me interested in gardening, so maybe I have got your green fingers after all. He makes up silly songs and I can just picture the two of you together in your garden, pottering about among the hardy perennials swapping ever-more ludicrous rhymes! Yesterday he said “even if you don’t believe in god, you can still believe in magic.” I think you’d love that as much as I do.
When you died I was terrified I’d never be able to remember you as you were before illness, but I do, and I feel happy at these memories more than I feel sad. I have this picture up in my bedroom, you and your funny, shy little shadow. We had such good times you and I.