Even in her hardest days, my Mam is still continuing to quietly give orders for what our family is to do in the future – buy matching mugs, get a dog, smaller car, sort out Christmas stockings, birthday presents, become property developers, change wallpaper, look after each other and be happy.
Before the alien came, this list would not be a challenge at all to complete, in fact it would be simple and even pleasurable. Mainly because either my Mam would have sorted it all out or would have done it alongside us. It’s always been that way. She’s not just my Mam – she’s my best friend and my life map. Every step she’s taken with us, pushed us through every uphill struggle and ran, laughing down the other side, helped us find direction when we’ve lost our way, sat with us when it was too much and we had to pull over to rest, kept us going and could always see the road ahead.
Now that road is not so clear and to be completely honest – that petrifies me. The thought of having to navigate future twists and turns, bumps and forks, milestones and scenic views without her seems exhausting, unfair and heartbreaking.
I have only known my 27 year long journey with my Mam in it and therefore I have only really known myself as a product of that. For a long time now I have been asking myself:
“Who will I be afterwards?”
I’ve worked through a lot, good and bad, to become a version of me I am content as person in their twenties can be. Now that is uncertain, fragile and possibly reversible. My life map did not include an alien invasion.
I see people around me doing this themselves – losing their map, but finding their way again. I look at these people in awe, in bafflement and with the slight urge to applaud. So I know that it is possible, but knowing and doing are two very different things.
I know a piece of me will go with her, I know I will miss her every day, I know I will still talk to her when I’m alone, I will hear her voice in our favourite places, I know the colourful world around me will become temporarily sepia and I know for a while my world will stop.
I also know that this is not what she would want for me or for any of us, I know she will want us all to carry on, I know I will forever lead my life by her advice, I know I will find comfort in our memories and joy in telling our stories, I know she would hate to think that my world had stopped.
But it will. That part is inevitable.
I just hope that it does start again and as it begins to turn, that I would be recognisable to my Mam and to myself. When that point comes I know I will no longer have the same map to hand, but I do hope I find myself stood on the right path again and that I do starting walking down it.