I have been pooping an awful lot on and around social media lately. The truth of the matter is that I haven’t missed effbook at all since we broke up. We still see each other now and then in the grocery store, and while we may not make eye contact, we at least can say a brisk “hello” to one another across the citrus fruit stack.
G+ is all right (and I dearly love the new G+ communities), but I’m most frequently on Twitter and chat. Because that’s one-on-one. And I like that. I like it a lot.
Something magical happened on Twitter today. One of my Tweeps mentioned that he had lost a parent a number of years ago, and that sometimes the passage of time hits him when he isn’t expecting it. He said, “I feel old”.
I answered him, and said it’s been a decade since Mum died, and I don’t feel old, I just feel very, very lonely.
Then another friend wrote and said he’d lost his parent within the last two years. And then someone else mentioned that his wee daughter is really missing his own father, who passed away earlier this year.
And I thought, this is wonderful. Not because we’re all talking about shitty things, but because we’re all talking about shared experiences. I probably wouldn’t have got to meet any of these people without social media, and truth be told, I haven’t met most of them in person (yet). But what happened today just pushed home that we have more in common with one another than we have differences.
The winter festive season is especially tough for me because Mum went a little batshit. Well, okay, she went MORE batshit. And I understand now. I get why. I didn’t, for a very long time, but I think it was the second or third Christmas morning without her that I really really understood. I felt close to her. And she must have felt close to her own mum also.
She would sit back in her chair and watch as we opened our gifts, the serious ones and the silly ones, and she would be surrounded by people who love her and she would be surrounded by their laughter and all the noise of gathering together and being joyful. And we weren’t joyful because we got loot. We were joyful because we were together. And because Mum and Nama were wicked good cooks.
This has been an incredibly difficult year for me. I don’t know why, but I have missed my mum so much this year. I can’t believe it’s a whole decade since I last heard her laugh. I can’t believe it’s ten years since we spoke on the phone. I don’t know what the last thing was that she said to me, but I’m positive it was wacky and made no sense.
I have, so many times in the past few months, picked up the phone and then stood there staring at it in my hand and asking myself, What were you going to do with that, kid? Just phone up the dead? Those long distance charges would be pretty steep. So many times I’ve thought of how she would be so proud of The Captain and The Nipper (she never got to meet The Nipper, who has her name). I have desperately wished to turn back the clock, just for one day, for one afternoon. Just for five minutes to fold myself into her arms.
I am lost; I am alone, drifting without an anchor. I have lost who I am, parts of my identity. Who am I? Who am I without Mum? Who am I without the woman who would always listen, even when she was horribly cross with me. Who am I without my number one fan? Even when she didn’t agree with what I was doing. Who am I without Mum, who understood me so well, no matter how much I dreaded admitting that.
Something we did when Mum died was to write letters to her and then toss them in the fire so that the smoke of our words would reach her. I haven’t done that in a very long time. So I think I am going to ask my kids to help me write a letter to Mum at Christmas. We’re going to tell her everything we think we’d like her to know, and we’re going to burn it all up outside in the glittering, new-fallen snow.
I don’t feel old without Mum. I feel far, far too young.
And thank you to my Tweeps for reminding me of this. And of why it’s important to embrace things that are difficult. Because these are the important things; the things that matter. You have reminded me of a valuable lesson today.