Around this time 10 years ago a very special soul left my life, and this world forever.
I was 19, and she was my mum.
On her headstone I wrote that she’d been too pure for this world to keep and I stand by this.
Mum was the first person I knew who always had plenty of love for everyone around her, and that was pretty amazing to grow up with.
She was the kind of person who made everyone feel special. She had a way about her that had strangers sit next to her on benches and divulge their secrets. She had kind eyes, and a smile that made everything better.
I grew up wanting to be her, and her death left me wanting to make her proud. I swore I’d live the life she missed out on.
This decision cast a shadow for a long time as I tried to do this.
Eventually as I got older and started to figure out who I was, I began to see her as my imperfectly perfect starting point to mould how I want to be. Not the blueprint.
Her kindness, compassion, strength and inner beauty are all things I aspire to keep within me, but her inability to put her own needs anywhere on the list is not. That part won’t get me anywhere that I want to go.
I wanted to be her yes, and honour her memory, but I also grew up and wanted more for my life. I want to be the change in the world she never believed she could be.
She had aspirations of her own – of helping people in need, creating success and purpose but instead she settled with finding it within her family life. She did her very best to be our world, and sometimes we weren’t the most appreciative audience.
By her choice, and for our family, she never got to create a life that she dreamed of. A life where she was more than she grew up believing she could be.
She made sure that I grew up differently, and filled my head with the knowledge that I could do anything that I set my mind to.
With her still in my mind, I know I can.
I can do this because grown from where she started.
I’ve learned that I have to be me, and that doesn’t mean I won’t love her still or honour her life.
It hurt to let go of that, but it was a kid’s way of thinking and I’ve grown up.
We can’t help anyone if we don’t care for ourselves first. This is a lesson by now you’ve heard me talk about quite a lot. It’s a work in progress but always on my radar.
When you’ve spent 20-something years putting everyone else first, learning a new way of being is like a baby giraffe taking its first steps.
First you fall, look around and realise that things are not okay. Then you look up and see where you want to go, and everyone around you doing their own thing.
From here you learn how to move your feet, then how to straighten your legs, and then move both parts together. Soon your head is raised and you are free to explore and play without any thought required.
So this is for you Mum. Your life taught me how important it is to stay soft in a world that tries so hard to make us hard. Your death taught me to be strong, and my life since has taught me how powerful it is to combine the two.