Well, here we are. One year ago, you passed away. I can't help but think you're looking down at me, knowing just what a shitty year it's been, and being extremely disappointed at how I've dealt with it.
All through your illness, I was the strong one, or so I thought. Supporting you through the chemo, the radiotherapy, cleaning your house, cooking your meals, getting you to your appointments and dealing with the hospital, the doctors, the nurses, the home care, all meant I had to be strong for you. After four years and finally seeing you up and about, able to go to church, visit family and friends, even to go on holiday and enjoy a birthday party, I thought I was doing it right. I thought I was being strong and doing what I was supposed to do.
And yet, I feel like somewhere along the line, I took my eye off the ball. Immersing myself in the routine of taking care of you, I somehow managed to miss that moment, when the cancer returned.
I blamed myself, and it's because I blamed myself that my year turned out to be so shitty.
It's all well and good being told that I did the best I could, or that no-one else could have done more. I know I did the best I could, but will always wonder how much more I could have done. I'm naturally an intra-punitive person, I will always think like that.
Your final diagnosis seemed to break me in two. I fought so hard for you, but when things were taken out of our hands, I felt my spirit dissipate, and then I would cry, loudly, and for so long that I'm sure you wouldn't have recognized the lost, broken and snotty pile of uselessness that I became as someone you had raised to be a hell of a lot better than that.
I failed you, Mumsie. I forgot what it was to be strong. I let myself be consumed by the anger and the darkness that came with the grief.
Even now, one year on, I can still remember the warmth of your hand in mine for the last time. The pain of losing you still runs deep within me, and I feel like all the strength I had just fell away.
I haven't been good to your memory since then, Mumsie. I haven't been good to myself, and I haven't been good to Studley (actually the truth is I've been almost too good to Studley. So good, in fact, that he's feeling smothered, and plans to take up fishing to get away from all the attention I've transferred from you to him. He preferred it when I was always out).
With my routine gone and with you gone, my life changed forever, and for a long time, I found that some heavy shit to deal with.
I need to find a way to fill the emptiness that doesn't involve drinking my body weight in alcohol, or having a mid-life crisis that involves PVC miniskirts, tattoos, weeknight clubbing, or burlesque classes. I'm about a couple years away from a hip-replacement as it is, and my bone density measurement is nothing to be proud of.
Give me a little more time, Mum. I promise I'll get my shit together. I love you.
Being a middle-aged orphan really sucks.