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These Things, They Remind Me of You

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In the journey that is grief, one of the eye-opening realizations for me has been that it isn’t just the memories or the flashbacks that can catch me unawares.

The regrets that are packaged up within events that never happened can be as heart-stoppingly painful as the recollections of actual events.

I am a child who has lost her mother, and a mother who has lost a child… and both of those big losses walk with me, through every day. Losing my mum to a hit-and-run when I was a teenager meant I did not have an adult relationship with her. She died when she was 45, and much as I struggled to believe it ever would (at the time), my life did move on. I finished school, I went to University, I married, and I had my children.

My marriage crumbled, my chronic health issues continued to plague me and I lost my son to death by suicide. And all the way through those milestones, I missed my mother dreadfully: in the good times and in the bad.

Would I have made some of the decisions I did, if I had her here to talk to? Would my relationship with my children have been different, if their grandmother had been here to lavish love on them and to continue to support their mother? Would I have grown to be as strong and as determined and as independent as I am, if she had still been here for me to lean in to?

And Harry, my miracle baby, the child I thought I would never have: I will not have an adult relationship with my son as well. I will never see my boy graduate university or get married, or have children. I won’t see any rounding out of the sharp edges of youth into a more mellowed and considered adulthood. I miss out on all of those moments, just as I missed out on sharing mine with my mother.

I don’t understand life sometimes; it challenges me a lot.

Those regrets, the impossible wish list, the bucket list that will never be fulfilled… all of those things can knit together to create poignant moments that can sometimes be a blessing in and of themselves. Like being able to spend so much time with my family, knowing we share the same history, with layers of the same memories, and understanding that they grieve with me. Like enjoying each day I am gifted, as I have a very real knowledge of how tenuous this thing we call life can be. Like appreciating the moments, the memories created within the confines of my heart, the fleeting glimpses I’m gifted, of my mum and my son, even years after their deaths.

Love never dies; I just need to remind my heart sometimes that it is OK for me to rest in the love it encases. I don’t need to hold on, so desperately tightly, to the finite memories that swirl around me — love never dies. Life goes on, and these things, that remind me of you (and you), these new experiences, these new memories: they don’t have to hurt me, they don’t need to puddle around at my feet as extra regrets. Love never dies — you walk with me, each step along the road. Life does go on, and I don’t need to feel guilty for living it without you. Love never dies.

Thinkstock image by AGL_Photography

Originally published: February 23, 2017
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