It’s strange the things you remember at certain important times. The smell of a perfume, the sound of a familiar song and a dress, worn repeatedly over many years that looks a little threadbare in the wardrobe.
I remember her hair. Long and straight and black in colour with a parting in the middle. When my hair is parted I look like her and that stings when I look in the mirror.
We are moving and the house is full of boxes. I say we are moving as we are literally moving today, the day after the phone call, as the boxes are being loaded up on the lorry so I was sat in the empty (ish) study looking at the message on my phone.
‘Can you please message me or ring me, it’s about your mother…’
It’s the kind of message where you stare at the screen and your heart starts to beat faster because you know what it means. As I dialed the number and heard that voice from the past I left a message in return saying I would call back.
She called back and the words ‘I am so sorry to have to tell you this…’ I heard as I stared across the road at the white picket fence and I sat there with my feet up on the silver bin being told my mother had died the previous week.
As I heard the sketchy details I didn’t cry. It’s hard to feel sadness at a specific moment when you’re unprepared and you’ve not seen someone for 15 years and some years even before that.
It’s hard to feel sadness for someone who walked out of your life when you’re 14 who seemed to never look back and see the little girl standing on the doorstep watching the loaded car pull out of the driveway. The girl who sat in her parents room looking at the empty wardrobe with the hangers still there but not the clothes.
It was more than the smell of smoke that left that day. It was my entire family life.
As I sat in the study with my feet up on the silver bin I carried on looking out over at the white picket fence for some time after the call had ended. I was in a daze.
It’s finally over.
I’d like to think that she could no longer hurt me. There will never be the emotional abuse, the emotional manipulation and the downright nastiness. The shouting, the alcohol and her copious amounts of partners who she put before her children and her entire family.
There was never an apology.
There will never be an apology.
Even after all these years, that’s the thing I was still really hoping for.
And I’ve just realised it.
It’s hard when your mother doesn’t want you. At least not in the way that other daughters are wanted by their mothers. I was told my hair was nice so my mother took me to the hairdressers and had it cut off. I passed my grade 1 cello with a high distinction yet my mother grabbed the envelope from me, tore it open and told me I’d failed. She watched me as I stood in the kitchen crying but never said a word about the truth it wasn’t until my father reached over to get the letter did I know that I’d done well – why did my mother do that? Why did my father not protect me from her?
It’s hard when you find out that your mother goes through your room when you’re not in the house (my brother told me), when she shouts are you for things she quite liked yesterday but she might not tomorrow and when she does her darnedest to stop you playing an instrument that your are really quite good at – something she later admitted to whilst drunk at her father’s funeral 15 years ago. She actual said ‘I think me trying to stop you made you more determined and successful.’
I am confused now in a way that I never thought I could be.
How do I feel? How should I feel?
Ding dong the witch is dead.
But I’m not sure I’ll be dancing on her grave…