This morning, I ran to work; my first run since one with Anna in Nethy Bridge, Scotland, last week. It poured with a solid, soaking (but not cold) London rain; relentless. I wore my mother’s grey ‘Cape Storm’ climbing top, and laughed often, holding out my arms and looking up at the sky. I feel her everywhere.
This evening, I stepped out of the office smiling at the cheerful bustle of Islington’s Upper Street, the brisk breeze and the lack of rain. Suddenly, as I looked up to watch a cloud hurry past above the branch of a Plane tree that seemed to be waving a pleasant “hello”, I felt my eyes prickle at the thought that my mother, Tessa, will never get to enjoy another moment like this one, where the joy of being alive puts a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. I let a few tear drops fall; it still feels better if I can cry a little for her each day. Then I turned my mind to how much she appreciated and fully enjoyed life while she could, and resolutely reminded myself to continue doing the same.
We talked a lot over the past year about slowing down to savour life’s pleasures, instead of letting it rush past. She spoke of how the more she rushed around, the faster time seemed to go, and she didn’t want to let it slip away. I’ve often found it useful to repeat those words to myself, breathe deep, and calm my beating heart. RELAX. So many of the things I worry about are truly inconsequential. And over the past year I’ve kept saying to myself, ‘I’ve never been happier. Let me savour this time as much as possible, and stretch short hours long.’ Tessa was happy. I was, and am, happy. Not merely content, but joyful. What a wonderful way to remember her, and oh how much easier to begin to deal with her loss, feeling so confident and strong in who and where I am.
I spoke to a colleague today whose mother died when she was 20, following a long illness. It reinforced my gratitude that Tessa never had to get old an infirm, or deal with protracted illness; glad too that I had a fair share of time with her in my adult life. She was there at my wedding, and the birth of my children; she guided me through emotional crises and career decisions. She gave me so many years of love and wise words, and these I will never lose.
She also mentioned the one book she has kept returning to since her mother’s death – ‘The Women Who Run with the Wolves.’ Ah, how clearly I remember the cover of that book, though the full context of it is less clear. I remember Tess raving about it, though not her exact words, and I have a very vague feeling that it may have been recommended or given to her by Michel? I jumped on Amazon in a flash and ordered it.
I found a necklace in mom’s toiletry bag; it’s not one I know the history of.
I’ve worn it for the past few days, and it has been like an amulet of strength and power for me, as well as a way to keep her close. It’s helped me through returning to work, which gets easier each day.
Dirk and I spoke of the ‘rose-tinted’ glasses she told Dirk he saw her through, which he readily agreed he did indeed always wear. I know I did, and do, too. I’m sure we all idolise our role models, and beloveds, somewhat. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t know at least some of Tessa’s weaknesses or demons. It was such a relief to me to hear her speak of how she had finally comes to terms with some of these, and had found others simply disappeared with age and circumstance – a relief because I battle so many of the same things myself. But I also feel that I have learnt a great deal from the mistakes she made – well, those I knew about of course.
I am, somewhat to my surprise, thoroughly enjoying my new haircut. It truly does feel like something of a rebirth, and an outward reflection of inner change. I actually think it suits me, and it’s amusing how long it takes people to recognise me (though I often forget about my hair, and wonder why I’m being ignored). It also shows up my few grey hairs much more clearly, and I am indulging myself by thinking that they are the lovely silver I loved so much on mom, so I feel great affection for them all of a sudden.