How do we lurch from sadness to a sundae. How many people have walked past this memorial, stopped to look at it and wonder how sad the family must be, and then head on for coffee, ice cream or hot pancakes. Do we count our blessings, do we think of loved ones. Do we wonder what happened. Do we wonder if, tragedy invaded our lives, would we too leave a memorial at the site of where our loved ones died.
I sometimes briefly wonder what that sadness must feel like, how would I cope with it. We have all at some point lost a loved one, my dad died in old age. It wasn’t a tragedy, it was how death takes you when you get old. Sad it is, I still desperately miss him and my world fell apart the day he died.
But when death strikes when it shouldn’t. The injustice, the guilt at being left behind. The need to remember, never forgot. Lay my flowers, lay my wreaths, lay my teddies. I shall always remember.
My mum is growing old and it is painful to watch. When did this happen, when did I suddenly stop being the little girl and grow into this adult that watches with sadness as she grows weary.
She is 87 and lives alone, refuses to move having lived in her house since 1970. She is lonely, my dad died nearly 20 years ago, and in between working I try and do as much as I can, spending my days off keeping her company. I take her shopping and we have occasional trips to the cinema. She clings to my arm as we take it slowly and she has to stop now and then to catch her breath. But the guilt that I’m not doing enough for her haunts me. And I am scared, very scared, of having to deal with the day that she is gone forever.
She fell recently, couldn’t get up. Thankfully she managed to pull the phone off the table and call me. And then it was a mad dash to get over there and get her off the floor. She was scared, scared that she was going to have to lie there all night. But we made her laugh and then we tucked her up in bed and kissed her goodnight. So now if she doesn’t answer the phone I worry, thinking she might have fallen again.
So I am now riddled with this overbearing guilt and a fear of losing her. And some days I wish that I could be that little girl again, that both my parents were around and I didn’t have a care in the world. And I wonder how it all suddenly changed, when did I become grown up and when did I stop relying on my mum and she instead started to rely on me.
Where once there were dreams in my head there is now just memories. And that’s what we cling to, the memories of when we were young and happy and nothing could touch us.
We all have wounds. Sometimes they heal, that’s if we let them. Sometimes they leave scars that stay with us forever, a reminder that we can’t move on. Our past dominates our future, but is that a good thing. We are who we are because of our past, we embrace our heritage, our upbringing, and we celebrate it. But what about the wounds, the memories that hurt. Do they make us who we are?
Do we get caught up in a never ending circle of blaming ourselves or regretting what we have done or said.
I hate that moment when you are breezing through life and something comes along to pull the rug from under you. I had a moment like that recently. Something that feels like I’m about to lose a part of my life that has happy memories for me and gives me a connection to my parents and childhood. It has made me think about how I would cope if I lost my mum. Badly is the conclusion I have come to.
Our lives are forever changed, moulded, or destroyed by loss. We can never go back, never be the person we were. But we do learn to smile again, laugh at jokes, have fun. That I do know, because when my dad died I never thought I’d be able to do any of those things. And we still do little things in memory of. The tributes may fade and disappear but the memory is still there.
We drive, or walk, past these memorials wondering who has been lost, wondering how it happened. For a moment we are immersed in a strangers sadness. This photograph was taken in Whitby, a place, almost continually filled with tourists. Who doesn’t love going to Whitby. Not me. Never tire of it. Fresh fish stalls (a guilty pleasure only because I’m a veggie and shouldn’t really eat fish) ice cream, milkshakes (which seem the rage now wherever you go) candy floss, and the Dracula experience (cheap and cheerful and actually quite scary)
This memorial has been here for a few years, and I do wonder what happened everytime I see it. The flowers fade but the memories remain and the hopes that our loved ones are somewhere else, a better place.