The manifestation of grief

Grief manifests in very strange ways. And you never know when it’s going to hit.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a month for me.

I’ve been working very hard on our pancreatic cancer awareness initiative #PurpleOurWorld and that always stirs up some feelings. I spoke to a lot of my mum’s students in the week leading up to World Pancreatic Cancer Day and it was a very difficult presentation to give. These were students who have been impacted heavily by my mum, she cared for them, educated them; for the eight hours that they were at school, she treated them as her own. The outpouring of love the school demonstrated was exceptional. Her ex-students went to great lengths to honour her memory, as did the staff she worked with.

Last week, I learnt something new. That for the rest of my life, grief can creep up on you, no matter what day or time. Something as small as the realisation that you won’t have access to a car for a weekend, while hours away from home, can send you into a tailspin.

Halfway through my panic attack, as I slowly understood why the tears were falling, I realised that no matter how old I get, there will always be a first time that I experience something that mum will miss. There will always be something that will make you remember, that will made you sad. Something you had no idea would affect you. There will always be some sort of reminder. And you never know how it is going to hit you. It could be the scorching heat that suddenly makes you anxious – all because she loved to swim. The shortness of breath could start just because you hear a song on the radio. Every time I hear Moondance on the radio, a flurry of emotions follows. It can all go downhill very rapidly, because you visit a place you last visited with her.

The day before mum’s birthday, I was watching our favourite show, Gilmore Girls (side note: why I’ve chosen to start re-watching every episode of a show dedicated to a mother-daughter duo, and a show my mum and I adored, is beyond me). I was already starting to tear up at random things, knowing the next day was going to be exceptionally hard and sad. And without so much of a warning, Thank Heavens For Little Girls blasts out through my television speakers. When I was little, my mum would sing this to me. Until she passed away, the song served as my ringtone whenever she was on the other end of the phone. The tears welled. Yet at the same time, a smile formed on my lips. Ever so slight, but it was there. I didn’t actually know what I was feeling but in hindsight, I guess it was a mixture of incredible sadness that I’ll never hear her off-tune voice sing out to me (never thought I’d say that), and a tinge of joy.

Because, when you lose someone, I think the scariest thing of all is to forget.

I’m petrified I’ll forget her voice, forget her touch, forget her smell. I’m so scared that I’ll forget the little things we used to share.

I think even though it may hit me at the most random times, without me even suspecting it, for me, the tears and heartache are a blessing in disguise. When I cry, and hopefully my tears will continue to be accompanied by the sliver of a smile, it’s only because I’m remembering her.

I don’t know why I worry though, my mum truly is unforgettable.