The night before my birthday I told myself I would bring. my. A-game. I woke up, went downstairs, put some upbeat music on and didn’t give myself a chance to get upset. This process might not be for everyone, but I didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer for my sisters on my birthday. I could sense they were feeling the pressure of making the day special – more so than usual – and I wanted to keep spirits high.
What’s that saying… fake it until you make it? I’m not sure if it’s the best tactic, and I imagine it’s not sustainable, but I wanted us to have a day off being griefy. I don’t think that’s a word (but it should be). I felt like we all deserved a nice day but, of course, “grief annual leave” doesn’t exist – it’s constantly there in the background even if you’re smiling away.
Regardless, I put on my music, I planned my outfit, applied my favourite makeup and started to get ready for lunch. I tried to ignore the fact that in the past I would have had a funny call from mum by now. She’d have sung happy birthday to me down the phone – with the added ‘wahey’ at the end.
For my birthday lunch we went to The Baraset Barn, which is where we go for the any kind of family celebration. The maître d’, Maggie, is amazing and she always knows what we order and my mum used to love her. Before we arrived I was secretly quite anxious we might get a “where’s mum today?” question but, unbeknown to me, Jackie had called ahead to let Maggie and the team know that mum had passed away. It’s those little things you can do to have power over a situation, I guess.
Obviously we talked about mum with Maggie – the topic wasn’t the elephant in the room. I showed off the new Lillie Bernie print I’d received and the new gorgeous photo book that Angie had created for me of just mum and I.
My sisters and I had a lovely day and although there were a few wobbly lips as we clinked our Prosecco glasses – knowing mum’s glass wasn’t in the mix – we gave her a little ‘cheers’ to let her know that she’s still with us. Let’s put it this way: I’m glad we were outside and our tears were hidden behind our sunglasses.
Obviously I was VERY spoilt with lots of lovely pressies – I think my amazing sisters might have over-compensated a smidge. I’ll share a video on my Instagram feed at some point this weekend hopefully.
If my birthday went pretty plain sailing, the rest of the weekend did not. I was exhausted… I felt low. While everyone on my Instagram feed was at the pub or out in the garden, I was just shattered. Grief wipes you out, it really does. And with the anticipation of my first birthday without her, well, I was just SO sleepy. I had a list of things I wanted to do but just couldn’t face it because I was too tired. I know I should let myself have a duvet day but drawing the blinds on a gorgeous sunny day, with tears in your eyes, just feels very wrong.
Weekends are the toughest for me. That little bit more time to think, to get upset and to feel a bit lost. This past year my sisters and I were like carers for mum. Not like the kind of carers you see on TV shows, it’s like the kind of care you don’t even notice you’re doing. It slots into your routine seamlessly and you don’t notice the gravitas of how all-consuming it is until that person is gone. I was constantly busy checking she was ok, and now I’m thinking ‘now what?’.
At the moment have no idea how I’ll ever fill that time in a meaningful way, but I guess until I figure it out, a little Saturday siesta is ok, right? RIGHT?!