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  • Lily Lawson

Endings and beginnings

As we approach the end of the year and the end of the decade I am dealing with my own ending.

My Mam's death has left me drowning in emotional soup. It feels so unreal. When something trivial that I have said or done upsets someone I want to say "My Mam's dead do you think I care about that? about anything?" I have cried like a hurt child that I want her back. Actually with her Alzheimer's I started to lose her years ago. The fact that she hadn't lived with my Dad and I for months has led me into a game of let's pretend at times that she is just at her care home and today is just a day that I am not going. I have revisited every decision that I made as her attorney/advocate/representative and her Daughter wondering if I had made a different one would she still be here?

Before she died, I saw her face in the moments between wakefulness and sleep, she was in the space between life and death and I was trying to read if I should fight, if she wanted to live or if she was trying to tell me it was ok to let her go. I had two more dreams one with just her image the other a scene of her and my Dad in the living room. In both she told me she loved me. In all cases apart from the last one she looked like she did about six years ago when she was diagnosed, in the last one I was going back about 15 years I think when she was completely independent.

My own mental health battles are part of this. I have had 3 breakdowns in my life, for want of better words, which impacted my employment and my social life. The last one left me housebound, at first by a feeling of my own necessity, then my Mam being unable to be left alone in the house played a role. I didn't want visitors much because their presence, whoever they were, added to my anxiety with the already stressful situation. I was worried what my Mam would do and felt I would be judged how I dealt with it, accepting that I didn't always handle things the way I should. I put up barriers to protect myself but they lead to isolation and the feeling of being somehow removed from the real world. I am grateful for those who stuck by me and continue to do so.

Doing my degree with the Open University led me to connect with people again and this year I feel I have made great leaps forward. I was at last starting to feel like me again. I made the decision to carry on as normal, as much as possible, throughout the challenges of the past couple of months because I needed that connection and I know how easy it is to lose people from your life. I am trying to avoid another breakdown. I walked away from my life, in the main, six years ago. I am not sure where I would start if I lost the online communities I feel so part of.

So Janus the God of Doorways will be once again visiting us with his two heads one facing forward and one back. This year that holds more significance than ever for me. I will step through that door for the first time without my Mam, the person I usually saw the new year in with, in various locations with a variety of company. The past few years it has been just me and my parents. I know she will always be with me, I carry her in my heart, but I still want to clink glasses and watch the fireworks and have her tell me that she hopes it will be a good year for me. I want to hug her and make her laugh and share stories and sing things I know she would make up the words to because she loved to do that. I might be 50 and I don't need her to do anything for me any more but I wasn't ready to let her go, the truth is I never would have been. She told me to live my life and I know for her sake I have to find a way to do that.

Happy New Year