I’m having a bit of an identity crisis. I’ve always defined myself by what I do, or how I relate to others, but it all seems to be a bit mixed up right now.
I’m not at uni, so I’m not a student. I am working, so I am employed, but only one day a week, so that always leads to questions about what I do with the other six days… I am a daughter, though one without a Mum. I am a niece, sister, cousin and granddaughter, but none of these are really talking points.
People keep telling me I’m like Mum. That they can see Mum in me; in my looks, my personality, my values. But I am not Mum. I am not and never will be Mum. I do not have the same ambitions as Mum had. I do not have the same desire to be surrounded by people that Mum had. I do not have the same level of intelligence that Mum had.
Mum was incredible at her job. She achieved a huge amount in her career including developing a department in the hospital, working with Marie Curie, contributing to several publications, doing some bits and bobs down in London to advise panels about her job from a national standpoint, and being a trustee at the local children’s hospice. She was a well-known figure in palliative medicine and well-liked by colleagues. Every time I ‘Google’ her career, something else comes up. When she wasn’t working, she was active in the community and the church.
I doubt I will ever have a career as successful as Mum’s. I doubt I will ever make as much of a difference in people’s lives as she did. I don’t have the single-minded ambition that she held and don’t have the same love of academia that she did. I like to be doing things, practical things, on my feet and out and about.
Mum’s illness caused me to lose bits of my identity. Her illness resulted in my time being split between uni work and heading back to visit my family. The more ill she got, the more any ‘free’ time disappeared, and with that any ‘me’ time, any time to follow non-academic pursuits and any time to pick up hobbies. Life became uni-Mum-sleep-uni-Mum-sleep very quickly and in all that I lost myself a bit.
Building my life back up is hard… really hard. I’m having to rebuild myself, almost – or make a new self – but I don’t really know who it is I want to make, so I’m sort of blindly following things that come up and cobbling together some sort of life, whilst also attempting to deal with grief for Mum and my old life. Mum always said she just wanted me to be happy, but it’s hard to be happy when every day is another day she’s not there to talk to. I don’t know who I’m making, I don’t know who I am or who I will be next week.
I don’t want to live my life as “Fiona’s daughter”. There are a few people I know at the moment who think of me this way, and it feels like such a burden. It also doesn’t do justice either to me or to Mum. Mum wasn’t just a mother: she was so much more than that. And I may be her daughter, but I am so much more than that, too. The values that both Mum and Dad instilled in all three of us lay the groundwork for us to build our lives on. I only hope that, in time, I can start to use these things – the wisdom, advice, baking skills, work ethic, and countless other things about them that inspire me – to build myself into someone very different to Mum, but hopefully someone they’re proud of.