I Hate That You Bloody Left Me – for Mother’s Day

Today I have hit a first. I haven’t written a blog post in two months – unusual for me as I am extraordinarily chatty and blogging is, to me, like having a good chat, both with myself and any readers that may happen by. So I should take a moment to explain.

For the past eighteen months I have been working on my second novel, ‘I Hate That You Bloody Left Me,’ which is a comedy tale that also explores the subject of grief and loss. During this time, October last year to be exact, my mother had a nasty fall and ended up spending almost three months on a critical care ward.

I confess, for most of my adult life I have had a strained relationship with my mum. During the writing of my first book, she had begun taking it upon herself to visit me unannounced during the day, staying for two to three hours to chat, when I knew I should have been writing. But to my mum’s mind, I was at home – not working, not doing anything of real importance.  One of the last times I saw her when she was well, I had tried to explain that I wasn’t able to ‘just drop everything’ at all hours of the day without notice. Couldn’t she just call in for an hour at lunchtimes and we could enjoy a quick cuppa together? It would be nice, I explained, to actually have a reason to make myself stop for lunch. Even though I was at home, I did have a job. I was a writer.

That day she left in a rage, telling me, ‘Huh, writing’s not a job!’ And she never took me up on the lunches idea.

When I received the call to tell me my mother was in an induced coma and on a ventilator after a fall, for many reasons too complex to list here, we hadn’t spoken for almost a year.

Along with my older sister, I began visiting her regularly and within a short space of time she regained consciousness and, though still very poorly, she seemed to be getting better. We had lots of chats and even some laughter in the weeks that followed, talking about the day she would come home and how much she was missing her little dog, Ziggy, and wanted so badly to get back to her. What we didn’t speak about were the many reasons she and I have never had a good relationship.

There were good days and bad. Three times the family were called in to discuss end of life options as we were told it was hopeless and she wouldn’t recover. Then she would pick up again.

On Christmas day she was surrounded by family around her hospital bed, with my brother and sister in England by video call. It was a happy day where she met my grandson, Jaydon, for the first time. A few days later she said, ‘I’m so proud of you, Heather. I told everybody about your book.’

Quite honestly, I’m not sure if she had used the words, ‘I’m proud of you,’ to me before that day. If she did, I don’t remember. And I had no idea that for all this time since I published, ‘The New Mrs D’, my mother had been telling everyone she knew to buy it.

On the 19th of January, my one-of-a-kind mum passed away peacefully with my sister, my eldest daughter and I at her bedside. She was 76 years of age.

It’s fair to say, she was a complex person who had difficult and strained relationships with a few people. However, she was my mum and we had some good times as well as bad. She was a wonderful and talented singer, appearing regularly on stage as a young woman, and gifted me the absolute love I have for all kinds of music. She was generous, and maintained her sense of humour till her very last days, telling the paramedic administering gas and air to her for the pain after her fall, ‘if I wake up pregnant, I’ll know who to look for.’

One thing is for certain, it feels beyond strange talking and writing about her in the past tense.

Regular readers of my blog will be used to me writing more upbeat posts than this for the most part, but I haven’t written much comedy since October last year. And I took back my otherwise completed manuscript to pour more in – as, by strange coincidence, a character I first wrote a year ago in ‘I Hate That You Bloody Left Me’ loses her mum in the early chapters and now, well, I had so much more to say on that.

I received a message from a friend after mum’s death. She said, ‘A pal of mine is a GP and after her mum passed away, she said she wished she could contact all the hundreds of women who had passed through her door saying they had lost their mum and were bereft. She told me, “I never realised exactly what it felt like and until it happens to you, you can’t. I wish I could contact them all and say, I get it now and I’m truly sorry for what you are going through”.’

When I was fifteen years old my father died. He was the only person who encouraged me to write when I was young, seeing something in my little stories that no-one else ever had until recently, and I didn’t begin to write seriously until I was in my forties. I adored my dad, was bereft when I lost him and have missed him for all of my days ever since. But it is a truth little understood until you experience it yourself, that losing your mum can leave a distinctive hole in your life. She is in most of my memories for as long as I have had them. Even though mine is a different kind of grief to that I suppose is considered traditional, it is a complicated, but still painful one, and there are times I worry I’m not entitled to it. Regardless, for the past few weeks I have found myself thinking of my mother and crying. Seemingly insignificant things, like eating an ice-cream cone, have reduced me to floods of tears I hardly seem able to explain. I even ask myself what I’m crying about.

‘My mum bought me an ice-cream when I was little,’ I tell myself. (Yes, I talk to myself…)

Then I argue that most people’s mums bought them ice-cream when they were little! These unexpected out-pourings have been labelled, ‘I’m Remembering,’ for the purpose of explanation to any poor sap that happens to be in a room with me whenever they occur. My husband is now so used to seeing them, he just nods, smiles and pats me on the back without too much concern.

I’m okay, I’m just remembering.

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Two people who hadn’t quite perfected the art of selfies. Me and Mum, 2013

So, to all those people who have lost their mum and whose grief I  never truly understood until now, I send my love. Hold yourself through Mother’s Day on Sunday, feeling grateful for where you came from, no matter what kind of mother you had.

Deepak Chopra writes, ‘at some particular time we chose an exact set of parents in order to work through things in this lifetime. This is so we can better evolve and move on and not have to go through this again and again and eventually become one with the universe.’ I read these kinds of things with interest, even though I’m never sure I believe them. However, I can say with all certainty that I do look back on my life knowing everything I’ve done, everywhere I’ve been and almost all the people I’ve grown to know well and love have gone some way to making me the person I am today.

Thank you, this life, for all of it. But mostly, this goes to my mum.

My brand new comedy novel, ‘I Hate That You Bloody Left Me’ is out on the 1st April 2016 and is available for pre-order now.

www.bit.ly/IHTYBLM

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Heather Hill

Mum of five (not the band), I am an author and comedy writer based in Scotland, UK

2 Responses to “I Hate That You Bloody Left Me – for Mother’s Day

  • Jan Brigden
    ago2 years

    Heather, what a beautiful post, and such a heartfelt tribute to your Mum. Brought a tear to my eye. It must have been hard for you to write, yet also, I would imagine, very therapeutic. Be really proud of the lovely person you are. Love Jan Xx

    • Thank you so much, Jan. Yes, this was one of those posts I hovered over the ‘publish’ button on for too long before sending it out. It is deeply from the heart but you’re right, it was really therapeutic to write. 🙂 xxx