“They’ve found a lump”
“It’s a tumor”
“They say it’s rare”
“It’s stopped working”
I can’t really remember exactly when these words were spoken, by who, or where I was. They exist only in some fragmented soundtrack of the past year. What I do remember is being sat on my sofa, nestled in to my mam, both of us fighting back tears and her whispering “I’m so scared”. When I pulled away from my mam, it felt like the world was moving away from me at the same time; the walls, my happiness, my past, my future, everything. Even her.
When she was in hospital in York, I could’t go into her favourite coffee shops because it didn’t feel fair that I could go there and she couldn’t. I was petrified of Christmas, because that had always been her thing, with the traditions she established. I stopped looking at weekend theatre trips to London as that was the last holiday we’d had together before the alien came.
Since she left us in October, those thoughts have been even stronger, my fear even bigger. That by being at those places, being in those times, would make the absence of her more apparent and utterly unbearable. Make her feel even further away than she is.
My dad, sister and husband were wonderful at Christmas. It was automatically different from previous years as we were in my dad’s new bungalow, we were cooking the Christmas dinner, we went to the local pub on Christmas Eve. Even when trying to stick to past traditions of sitting in the same seats at the theatre for our Christmas trip, it changed as I’d booked the wrong seats. We still stumbled now and then and had a fair few tears, but we made it our own, not a strive for the impossible replication of years gone by…and it was good.
It was whilst having a coffee with a very good friend of mine last weekend, that I looked out of the window and saw the billboard poster for Matilda – the final show on our last West End adventure…
I was there, I was doing it – right outside the place where me and my mam shared our last incredible holiday…and I wasn’t a mess. Maybe that was due to the fact that I was aching from the copious amounts of whiskey and side-splitting laughter from the night before or from just devouring the meatiest Sunday roast I have ever encountered. Well not maybe – definitely. This was exactly why. I was simultaneously thinking of my mam; how much I missed her and the good times we shared, whilst also making new memories. This is not an act of replacing, but rather remaking and reclaiming what was, what is and what could still be. That’s exactly what we did at Christmas, it is precisely what we will do on Saturday when we go to a pub to celebrate my sister’s birthday – a pub which was previously frequented on the way home from my mam’s hospital visits in Newcastle.
Over the next year I am going to start doing more of this – reclaiming spaces and remaking memories in places that still hold a lot of Lorraine in them. So you may get an invite to go for a coffee, to buy things with me from a quirky little shop, to watch a show, to go on a trip – and in that moment I hope to remember times gone by, but make a new memory that I can also tell on future visits.