Grief is a strange (and on the whole, very boring) thing. We’re now entering month five of life without Mum and I was beginning to think maybe the surprises were running out. Apparently that’s not the case, though.
After getting in a conversation with someone yesterday and coming home and pondering, I was struck with the realisation that I can’t remember parts of my past. Not only can I not remember things, but I can’t think of anyone who would be able to remember them…
I’m not talking about major life-changing events like ‘which primary school did I go to’ or ‘what GCSEs did I choose’. Thankfully there are records for that. Also, I still have my Dad, and although his memory may not be as good as Mum’s was (which was scarily good), much of my past is still held in his memory.
However, this isn’t a foolproof set-up. When we were younger, my Dad worked away during the week. Mum worked long hours, too – but she saw us each night. There are a lot of the things that happened over that period that I can’t remember, but will have existed in Mum’s memory – and they will have died with Mum. Basic things like ‘what was my favourite badge to work on at Brownies?’ and ‘at what point did I realise English was anything but my favourite subject?’ I will probably never know.
There are other things that Dad will have known at the time but will not remember now. Things like the people I played with at school, my favourite subjects in Year 2, and my favourite item of clothing as a nine-year-old (although if I hunted round the photo archives for long enough, I could probably work that last one out).
These things are only skimming the surface of what I’ve been thinking over, but they are examples of items in my lost past. It’s really hard to explain how it feels to sit there and try and conjure up memories and have nobody there to fill in the blanks. In the past, if I wanted to know something I would just text Mum, but now I can see the memories but can’t reach them to make sense of them, and there is nobody there to help me do that. It’s incredibly frustrating and depending what it is, can be quite distressing.
As well as memories in their purest form, there are many things that I’m sure I remember ‘wrongly’, or remember correctly but with the eyes of a seven-year-old. Sometimes you just want someone else to offer some perspective on your memories, but when only two of you were involved in that memory and one of those people is dead, where does that leave you?
Even ‘taking a trip down memory lane’ is hard. At 18 I visited London with Mum for an awards evening, there are things we did on that trip and if I want to remember them I no longer have anyone to bounce those memories off. I can only remember it on my own. It’s so lonely.
It is really weird knowing that if I lose a memory, and only Mum would have remembered it, it is now a nothing. It’s a gap. I don’t know where it went or what it turned into but it’s not there anymore. It’s been replaced by space and silence. For the rest of my life, that gap will always be a gap; there will never again be a piece of memory that perfectly fits.