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I am in the Southbank Centre…..again.
This is now the second most talked about thing in my blog, behind coffee 😉 (oh, or postcards perhaps)!!
London is simply sparkling in the sunshine today. I don’t like to admit that the weather affects one’s mood, but let’s be honest – it really does. With sunshine, comes beaming smiles. I almost want to cry with joy. Oh no wait – that is just the sun in my eyes.
I am sat here, laptop open, reflecting about the last time that my Mum came up to visit me in London.
It was November 30th 2011, just a couple of months before she passed away. It was a Wednesday, it was my Birthday and my Mum should have been at work, teaching. But she wasn’t. I have taken a look at my old twitter account where I have written the day before: ‘Thank you strikers for choosing my birthday. Can’t wait to hang out with mummy Viv tomos x’. I had completely lucked out. Another beautiful coincidence.
I met Mum at Victoria Station and we took a trip up to the next floor to grab a drink before we moved on. (Yes, the drink was a coffee.) Mum excitedly presented me with a card and some lovely gifts, but she seemed completely distracted. She had a cheeky look on her face too. What was she up to and why did she keep looking around? Was I missing something? I was – my sister, Hannah! We all burst into fits of giggles as Hannah explained that she had been walking past the table continually for 5 minutes before I realised. A lovely surprise.
From Victoria, we headed to the South Bank…..to the area in which I am sitting in now. I remember that Mum didn’t eat an awful lot for lunch. She said she wasn’t feeling 100%. I thought nothing of it on the day. Nor did Hannah. Mum said it just felt like a tummy bug.
I wish it had just been a tummy bug.
As we pottered around the stalls, Hannah thought it would be hilarious to buy dad a wooden tie as part of his Christmas present. The most worrying part about this is that I think it may have been Dad’s favourite gift that year. Mum found a photography stall. She bought four photos of letters, spelling out the word ‘LOVE’. I adore that picture. Dad has had it framed and put up at his home.
The word ‘Love’ is, of course, a special word in itself. But being Mum’s maiden name too, well that makes it all the more special to us.
‘All You Need is Love’ has a totally different meaning now. ‘Fight for this Love’ by Geordie Cheryl was going to be my anthem for helping Mum fight – but I didn’t have time to use it. Paris – the city of ‘Love’, in my heart now belongs to my Mum. And Lovehearts are my Mum’s sweets.
My friend, Clare, had the genius idea of using Lovehearts when we did the Race for Life on Bournemouth Beach last year. What a day that was.
‘Team Love’ was made up of Sarah and I plus 9 friends. We ran (ish) whilst chanting, shouting, dancing, high-fiving and dishing out Lovehearts like no one’s business. I will never forget the feeling of crossing that finish line. 5K is short, yes, but the distance is irrelevant in an event like that. Knowing that you are doing it for someone you have lost and to run for a cause that is trying to prevent the same happening to others, is overwhelmingly emotional. A few of us did a forward roll over the finish line. On concrete. Youch. Then we kicked off our shoes and ran into the sea for a cool down. It was only minutes after being out of the water that I realised I had lost the photo of Mum that I had with me. That really killed me at the time. I reacted badly. I didn’t want to, I just couldn’t help it.
The emotions that I have felt when we were losing and after losing Mum, have been more extreme than I ever thought possible. The anger, despair, helplessness, sadness, frustration, emptiness and utter heartbreak, to name just a few, have been unbearable and what has shocked me the most is that these are completely uncontrollable at times.
It was only this week just gone, on a training course with work, where a conversation about people having time off due to the loss of a family member triggered this uncontrollable effect. I honestly felt ok. I thought to myself, it’s cool – I’ve got this. But my body didn’t seem to agree. The shakes started, I felt like all of the blood had rushed out of me, my eyes were in danger of welling up, I felt sick. The shock of last year’s trauma hit me out of nowhere.
No lessons in school prepare you for the loss of a loved one. No books or websites that I have found can fully explain what you are going through. It can be an extremely lonely time. But there is no right or wrong way to deal with it. That is a fact. (Unless you decide that turning to a life of crime would help. Not advisable!)
My Mum did warn me about the mixture of feelings. You see, she lost her mum at a similar age. She told me not to fight anything. Not to beat myself up or hold anything in. I still can’t believe my Mum was so selfless, to be helping us in her last moments.
I had a crack at doing Mum’s ‘Love’ sign, 60 Postcards style (I had to cheat a little for the final ‘s’ haha):
I am putting the deep and meaningful aside for next time and I will bring you a post on an inspirational day I attended at Greenford High School!
Until next time, good night or good morning xx
Letters from the kids:
Hi Jonathan. I think the success of this project is thanks to the fantastic responses to postcards and the readers of the blog, like you! We did place some postcards in random places, as well as the famous ones! I often wonder if any are still out there! Thank you so much for your letter. All the best, Rachael! x