The little box..
While on holiday with my Dad and sister in Cornwall over half term we had many discussions about Mum and how we felt… My Dad is by far the best at coping, dealing, managing with the sadness, loss, change… Maybe it is because he has had longer to come to terms with the demise of my Mum’s brain, her personality, her… having lived with it daily for many years…
One evening, I asked him how he managed to stay so positive and focused on the future, without feeling guilty or letting the grief overwhelm him as it was me. What could I do, so that I could focus on getting my life back on track and being the best version of myself, to being the best mother to my boys, the caring wife, the brave, fearless and professional business owner… so that I could get back to being myself, my positive self, the optimist, happy, full of vitality and spirit.
He talked about a box.
He puts ‘Mum’ in a box.
And every now and then, he will allow himself to open the box… either when he is visiting her, or in quiet moments at home.
He will open the box and think of her – and smile at happy memories.
He will open the box and think of her – and allow sadness in.
He will close the box of Annie. And open the box of the life of John, Dad and Grandad and fill it. Fill it with adventures, of ice creams, silliness and cricket, rugby or tennis… making new friends and having fun.
This is a technique I started to apply on hearing about it. For Mum has been floating around my head like a ghost and interrupting everything in the life of Ali.
I am getting better. I tried to put Mum in box. At first the box was too small. Too plain. She wouldn’t go in. So typical of her. She never did want someone wanted her to do, if she didn’t want to do it first.
So I have covered it in diamonds and pearls. Her favourites.
And filled it with chocolates – Swiss. It had to be. She only ever ate Lindt. Anything else was inferior.
And filled it with kittens – Siamese kittens. Soft, silky and squeaky. Her babies.
She is going in more frequently now… a little less stubborn. And she is staying in her box more too.
I am finding I have control of the box, rather than her having control of my mind.
I can go to the box at any time and open the lid to check to see if she is ok. Sometimes, she is sleeping. Sometimes, she just looks up and smiles while playing with the kittens and waves to let me know she is ok.
Sometimes she invites me in for a chocolate. The sweetness of her treats, softens the bitterness of the memories.
Sometimes, I stay a while and let the memories float across my mind. The first time she picked me up from boarding school… I couldn’t see her in the crowd… only Dad with his wonky walk in the distance… but before I could get to him, being swept up in her arms and smothered with kisses, love and the smell of her Fendi perfume. The time she first held Tom… pride and love oozing from every part of her. The same memory tinged with sadness as I know she would be so proud of Tom now.. and Willy.
Sometimes, the painful memories creep in and I have to close the lid… The last time she came to Yorkshire and Tom flying out of the classroom door and in to Grandad’s arms… Mum not knowing who they were… and the realization that this would be the last time she saw them and the boys had her in their lives. And always the haunting memory of her face against the window pain, rattling at the door, trying to follow us out of the mental hospital.
I softly close the lid of the jeweled box and let her get back to her kittens and chocolates.
I softly close the lid of the jeweled box of Mum and go back to my life and know that I can visit whenever I want to, need to and would like to…