Mother’s Day: With or Without Her

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

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Sunday 15th March is almost here and Mother’s Day marketing fills the shop windows, dominates articles online and generally smacks the motherless amongst us in the face with every single mention. It is a day that is tainted for me since Mum’s death, but one that has changed over the past three years. As much as I hate the fact that I cannot spend the day with her, I feel as though the bitterness is fading.

daughterhoodI was recently introduced to The Daughterhood, which is all about  mother and daughter relationships. It was inspired by Natasha when her Mum was diagnosed with a progressive illness and she soon found many other people who wanted to take part in the discussion.

They have just released as a book and you can check out the website where people share stories. I adore the concept and, of course, wish it had been around before Mum passed. But, it was a lovely reminder that we don’t have to stay quiet about those we have lost.

I know this will be a difficult milestone for those who have lost their mum, but what I always find myself repeating is that we need to remember there is no right or wrong on how to feel or what to do on the day.

Perhaps you would like to avoid the world and stay in? Or go out and find a distraction? Whether you are with or without her, Mums should be appreciated and celebrated. Here are a few things that you may want to try this Sunday:

  • A Card or a Postcard 

If you have lost your Mum I would still recommend writing a card or even a postcard. This has been tried and tested by moi and although it is, inevitably, an emotional task, it can be helpful to get your thoughts written down. You can do this in the comfort of your own home and space, do it with friends or family and in 60 Postcards style, you may even want to leave your Mother’s Day note somewhere special.

  • #LoveforMum

Yep, Facebook and Twitter will be flooded with images and statuses of what people are up to on Sunday but, rather than be forced away from our social networking sites, I suggest we create an idea that we can all get involved with. Write a message (include a photo if you like) and send it to my Twitter, Instagram or Facebook…..

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  • The Meet 

This Sunday afternoon I plan to head to a pub in Shoreditch. I will have my phone and laptop on me so that I can be sharing the #LoveforMum messages and you can contact me all day by email. Further than that, if you would like some company and want to join (on your own or with mates) then feel free to email me on 60postcards@gmail.com and I’ll tell you where I will be.

Speak to you next week. Until then have a lovely weekend, enjoy the sun and spoil or remember those Mums.

Rachael x

PS: Stars Charity Concert

My sister, Sarah, was inspired by Mum and her passion for singing to set up a charity concert on 10th April (7.30pm) at Merley House in Dorset. Songs from the stage and screen will be performed by a very talented group of singers and you can buy tickets here (includes a drink on arrival).

All of the proceeds on the evening are going to the children’s charity CLIC Sargent.

Raffle: A huge thank you to Tim, Norma, Raphael (Stylechapel) and Jayne (Home Farm House) who have kindly donated raffle prizes.

If you (or anyone you know) may be able to help with a raffle prize, please drop me a note at 60postcards@gmail.com.

An Open Letter To Mum & The Paperback Countdown

Life is manic at the moment – beautiful at times and tough in others. Last week was the three-year anniversary of Mum’s death and so I decided to turn to my escape once more, using words to mark the occasion. I have spent a lot of time writing about Mum but this time I decided to write to her through an open letter. It is posted on my Huffington Post page and here is again in full:

“Dear Mum,

I cannot begin to comprehend how three years have gone by since you left this world.

On one hand it seems like just yesterday we were nattering away on the phone, heading out to share a cream tea or off to the theatre together. On the other hand I feel like it has been forever since I have seen your warm smile and heard your infectious giggle (which would escalate into hysterics, tears streaming down your face).

I miss you. I miss you so, so much. I miss your calming, nurturing ways. I miss the way I could call you with any problem – no matter how trivial – and you would talk me through it and help me to find the perfect solution. I miss linking my arm through yours. I miss your hugs.

I have not forgotten the advice that you gave me in your final days – to allow myself to feel whatever I feel. I had a tough start with that, admittedly. I bottled things up and I put on a brave face – my, ‘I’m Okay’ mask – which I have observed as such a natural reaction for anyone who has lost a loved one. The trickiest of them all was being able to embrace moments of happiness without the sharp pain of guilt because you are not here. I’m getting there.

I have always been a terrible sleeper, as you know. I was once torn apart by nightmares that would haunt me night after night. Waking up from those was like losing you all over again. But, in the past year I have started to dream about you – beautiful you. Now there are times when I wake up and I feel like you have been right there beside me.

I have so much to thank you for, Mum. I don’t even know where to begin. Thank you for being so patient with me as a teen, when I probably had a few moments of being a bit of a sarcastic madam (she still makes the odd appearance). Thank you for passing down your love of crosswords, although somehow it seems your intelligence didn’t make it so I am yet to complete one. Thank you for encouraging me to follow both my head and my heart. Most importantly, thank you for teaching me that family comes above all else and for showing me, Dad and the girls, so much love.

Now, this may seem a strange one but I would also like to thank you for my 28th Birthday gift of Eurostar vouchers. I always thought we would be able to go to Paris together someday. How I wish we’d had more time. But I want you to know that I put those vouchers to good use.

I was certain that you must still be a part of the trip so I decided to go to Paris to celebrate your 60th Birthday. While I was there, I left a creative tribute for you around the city. You would never believe how much has happened and how much your legacy has grown since that weekend. You are such an inspirational woman it is no wonder that there is so much magic behind it all.

You may be wondering why I am writing to you so openly. Well, you always taught me to be an honest person and as someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, sharing our story and my experience of grief through the written word has helped me immensely. On top of that, it seems to have opened up a discussion – a heart wrenching but necessary one – and with death as such a taboo in society, this can only be a good thing. By sharing our thoughts and feelings with each other it can help us to feel less alone. I know you would be a massive advocate of this.

I will never look for ‘acceptance’ and ‘closure’ or even begin to try to make sense of what has happened. I know that your death will stay with me forever. But I will continue to stay as strong as I can for you – finding my own way to deal with it day by day, month by month and year by year. I will never stop trying to make you proud. You always made me believe that I could take on the world and, as time has gone on, I have started to believe this again.

Saying goodbye now is easier than before. Because really, you are not gone, Mum. I am taking you with me every step of the way.

Yours always,

Rachael x”

I feel very lucky that so soon after such a difficult milestone, I am able to have the light of the paperback release ahead of me. It is exactly one week today and Simon and Schuster UK have started a twitter countdown:

If you are an avid tweeter, please share away and look out for the next one!

I will be back next week with more stories.

Until then, have a wonderful one.

Rachael x

A Heartfelt Note for Rose on the Brooklyn Bridge

This blog began as a way to document my personal tribute to my mum. To celebrate what would have been her 60th birthday, I scattered 60 handwritten postcards around Paris in her memory and I wrote my email address on them in case anyone was to find one. (You can read more in my Glamour article here.)

Since then, the project has now moved forwards with the overwhelming amount of messages received from people who are sharing their own stories. I invited readers to become a part of the magic via 60 Postcards Stateside and I set off to New York City to scatter the individual notes.

Today’s post is for Tony, who wrote a heartfelt note to his mother, Rose.

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“Hi there, 

Please don’t throw me away but take a few minutes to read.  

This card is in memory of my mother, Rose, who loved New York. Sadly I never really knew her. She gave birth to me in Dublin in 1953 when she was just 17. She looked after me for 18 months but in May 1955 gave me up for adoption. I was adopted and went to live in England. She then set off on the boat for New York, where she worked hard and made many friends. It wasn’t until 1987 when I decided to trace her that I found she had been taken ill in 1974, returned to Ireland and died aged only 39. I met her sisters and brother and heard who an amazing, loving and lovely person she was. I don’t know if it’s genetic but my daughter loves New York and would love to live and work there. Not a day goes by without me thinking of Rose and I’m sure that between 1955 and 1974, while living in New York, not a day would have gone by without her thinking of me and praying that life worked out OK. I can let her know now that it did. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Tony.”

I know Tony, as the daughter he refers to in his message is one of my closest friends, Beccy. Yet, this postcard came as a complete surprise and I felt so moved when I read about his search for Rose.

Beccy was with me for that very first trip to Paris and I lived with her for 4 years – she was there through it all. She flew off to Canada last year but we were able to meet in New York on her way home and so, naturally, we wanted to do this one together.

I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was about 12 so why not give it a whirl for the first time in years on the TERRIFYING roads of New York? Sure. We went to the bike hire shop in Brooklyn, signed a disclaimer saying that we would be responsible for our own deaths (great) and set off for the Brooklyn Bridge via Prospect Park and many a gorgeous NY street. I was wobbling about like crazy but we ignored the beeping cars, embraced the downhill straights and enjoyed a pit stop for an ice cream en route.

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Our plan was to leave Tony’s postcard for Rose on the Brooklyn Bridge – a structure full of history, brimming with tourists and a gorgeous spot connecting Brooklyn with Manhattan. Beccy tied it to the railings with ribbon, we hopped on our bikes and rode away – hoping that it would be read.

The beautiful, Rose

The beautiful, Rose

In Tony’s letter (to accompany his postcard) he describes how, despite the fact that he was unable to meet his mother in person, he has now connected with new family members and they continue to tell him all about Rose and her warm and wonderful nature. I had the pleasure of meeting one of his cousins in NYC , too.

I’ve sobbed all over again writing this one up. It is an incredible story. There may be heartbreak in the separation of Tony from his mum, but there is so much beauty in the fact that he is still able to get to know her through others. And now, she lives on through him and his children too.

Tony, Rose – I will be raising a glass to you this evening.

With love,

Rachael x

Every single one of these postcards has a different story, a unique message and an overwhelming amount of warmth and love embedded in the words. If you would like to do a postcard tribute of your own, please do get in touch – I would love to help.

Email: 60postcards@gmail.com

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