This story starts on my 21st birthday – 1st September 2012. I had a little shindig round my parents place, about 20 of my nearest and dearest in my back garden on a sunny late summer evening (dressed as Harry Potter, obviously). My dad popped champagne, we ate cake and drank irresponsible amounts of cider. My mum was shy but she always was since the surgery – she had had a malignancy behind her left eyeball and in order to remove it she had to lose her eye. We are all very thankful; she was facially deformed but she was fine. She was clear. The prosthesis was very convincing and we had finished that harrowing chapter of all our lives! We toasted to good health and happiness.
Then one day she didn’t go to work – her memory had been lapsing but my dad received a phone call from the nursery she worked at saying they were very concerned. She had sent them a very jumbled message that made no sense at all and had simply not arrived. My dad rushed home to find my mum in a state of total confusion.
Without going in to too much detail, it transpired my mother was ill again. Seriously. She had tumours on her lungs, her lymph nodes and – crucially – her brain. The situation quickly deteriorated it became clear to her doctors that this was going to kill her. Quickly. The tumour in her brain was completely inoperable, it was extremely aggressive and it was terminal. My world crash landed.
On February 4th 2013 – 5 months and 4 days since my birthday – my mum passed peacefully in her sleep. It is now February 22nd. It’s a funny thing, grief. I knew she was going to die. Life was cruel, and it was cruel to have her lingering. I know it would be completely selfish of me to say I wished she was still here; although of course I do wish she was still here. She was an extraordinary woman, renowned for her sharp wit and dry humour. She always had a twinkle in her eye, there was always tea in the pot and there was always gossip to be had. It has become glaringly obvious to me through the course of this experience that life is a very fragile and temporary thing; we never know when it could end. I had spent my days worrying about things that seem so trivial to me in retrospect. I panicked about what I would do when I graduate. I fretted and worried about my lack of extracurriculars – how would I possibly get a job when I had no idea what I wanted to do and have zero experience anyway. I have to laugh now – such little worries. A few months ago, an intensely irritating internet fad spread around; the acronym YOLO, meaning You Only Live Once. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve had a bit of a YOLO realisation. There are so many evils in the world. Life is temporary, fragile and you really do only get one shot at it. I am not going to worry about trivialities any more. I’m planning to make a difference, travel the world and have a cracker. Here’s to my mum. I hope I do you proud.