With Mothers day fast approaching there is a different side to this day for me. The ongoing advertising that is now everywhere leading up to the day only serves as a constant reminder. While this post may seem off topic for an interior design blog, it is in the hope that even just one reader in a similar situation might gain comfort.
After all our home is nothing without the family we share our hearts with.
Certain events in our life change the path we are on in an instance and as a result, shape who you become. While I am now a mother myself and the day should be one to celebrate, I often find it brings a lot of sadness. Not only am I missing my mother, but my beautiful boys will never know their grandmother.
It’s difficult to explain exactly how such an event shapes your life, your relationships and your outlook on everything. It can be an isolating feeling but I’m thankful none of my friends have had to experience it.
It wasn’t until recently when I stumbled across Leigh Van Der Horst through my lovely Instagram community and instantly felt a connection with what Leigh was doing. After loosing her own mother, Leigh took those moments of heartbreak and wrote a book called ‘Without my Mum‘ to share her honest, heartfelt story of losing her mother to cancer in 2008.
Reading through the first few pages, I instantly felt a connection to Leigh’s story and her feelings and reactions. Although raw and heartbreaking to read it was also heartwarming and gave me comfort in its own way. It was like Leigh had expressed what it felt like for me and how loosing my mother shaped every part of who I am today. This was the first time that I’ve experienced this kindredness, someone else understood. What follows Leigh’s story is woman after woman sharing their journey to feeling whole again.
It is with that, I share a small part of my story………
Often we look back on our childhood with memories that stand out more than others. For me there are two.
I was 6 years old pouring a glass of milk in the kitchen and accidentally spilled the entire cup all over the floor. I remember my mum calmly telling me it was ok, not to get upset and that we can easily clean it up. In that moment, she told me, if anything ever happened to her all I would need to do is look up to the sky, find the biggest and brightest star and that would be her looking over me and keeping me safe.
The second was the same year, a few months later. I woke up to get ready for school as usual but instantly wondered where mum was. Friends of hers from out of town had been visiting, with one of them still there telling me to get dressed and ready to go to school.
I remember sitting in the car with this weird feeling I couldn’t seem to shake that something was clearly not right and kept asking my mum’s friends a number of questions which she would just try and brush over. We parked outside a dairy and again I asked her what we were doing – which she didn’t answer.
As we got out of the car, instead of going into the dairy, we walked across the road to the hospital. When we walked through the doors to the entrance I have this memory of a doctor walking out to the room and talking to people around us saying “I’m really sorry, we did all that we could but we couldn’t save her”.
Everything changed in that moment. My mother had passed away in a vehicle accident, during the night as a result of a drink driver, while my younger sister and I were tucked up in bed.
After my mother passed away when I was six, I moved back to New Zealand to live with my Nana (my mother’s mother) who raised me while my sister was kept behind in Australia with her father.
Over the years I hated Mothers Day. During school years with the need to make something for our mother. One school trip in particular to visit the local the Fire Station, where without any warning we were taken outside to the yard holding cars involved in accidents. This one fireman proceeded to warn us about the impact of drink driving whilst pointing to one car that had hit a power pole. All the children where in awe of this crushed car while I was close to tears with all the painful memories flooding back.
As I got older, I was faced with new reminders. My wedding day, and the birth of my two sons. I wanted to have her there with me during those moments. To guide me and be there, simply sharing in the memory.
Two years ago, the woman who stood in my mother’s place to raise me, my Nana (and mother’s mother), passed away suddenly. It was like loosing my mother all over again and in some ways starting from scratch.
Each year advertising for mothers day ramps up earlier than the one before and now with social media it can be difficult to avoid. Each day has its difficult moments and some are better than others, but Mothers Day presents its own challenges. It is hard to avoid the conversations or questions around ‘what are you getting your mother for mother’s day’ or the social media giveaways – ‘don’t forget mother’s day, enter here to win your mother….’
Our two boys, Dylan (11) and James (6) know the story of where Grandma is and what happened to her.
It’s canny what they pick up on, with even my youngest noticing the advert that resembles my mother and near on paints the picture of her death. He doesn’t comment or look at me, he just quietly picks up the remote and changes the channel like it was never there.
With my boys I’ve shared that eerie conversation my mother had with me at six years old, telling me to look at the stars and she’ll always be there watching over, now watching over them too. And whenever we come home from somewhere and the stars are out, its comforting to hear the voice of one of my boys say ” Hi Trudy”.
It still takes everything in me not to break my heart.
Leigh has created a community group where those of us without our mums can connect. While it doesn’t make it all go disappear, it’s really comforting knowing there are other women there who understand. If you know someone who might benefit from this community I couldn’t recommend it or the book more.
Mothers day for me now is one to mark quietly and enjoy the day with my husband and children, taking in their smiles and laughter and feeling lucky to have these monkeys in my life.