I sometimes wonder if she’s looking down on me and shaking her head in disapproval, while secretly admiring my achievement. I remember her reaction when I told her my dissertation was to be published in a nursing journal, full of pride and admiration. However, the relationship I had with my mum was not always a harmonious one. A long time ago I made mistakes, I am human, we all do. I eventually came clean and declared my gross error of judgment, and suffered the consequences. I decided from then on that I would always be honest with myself, and not to be afraid of living my life my way. This cost me my relationship with my parents; they were not so understanding, and we parted ways for over ten years. I’d tried on a couple of occasions during that time to build bridges, but nothing became of it, until my brother’s wedding. I didn’t want a significant family event to be awkward, so I tried once again, and that time we were all ready to move on.
If I had known then that we would have less than a year to bury our differences and re-build our mother-daughter relationship, I might have done some things differently. Yes, I still would have emigrated, I had already made that decision. I really didn’t expect to be getting that call for a long time. The saddest part was that I’d only just told her the news she had always hoped one day to hear. I was 11 weeks pregnant when I found out that she was terminally ill. Returning home to England was something I did with a second thought. It was the right thing to do, a lot of water had passed under the bridge, and we built new ones. I showed her my scans; she was the only person to know which names we’d chosen. Deep down I think I always knew she would never see her first grandchild. She died when I was 31 weeks and too sick to travel long haul to say a final goodbye. It took me a long time to have closure.
That was 8 years ago today, and a day doesn’t go by when I don’t think of her. It used to be in a sad way, but now I sometimes laugh and joke with myself about the fact that sometimes I open my mouth and she comes out. Despite our differences, we parted good friends. Anyone who reads/has read Bruises will now understand where some of my words have come from. They are the product of a very real and powerful emotional experience that I believe you can only write about if you truly know how it feels. It took me some time to write that particular chapter – sometimes I just couldn’t see through my own tears – but it was quite cathartic to use it as part of someone else’s story. Every time I re-read it I could feel the depth of Frankie’s emotional pain. I deal with physical pain all day, every day, but emotional pain is something far more excruciating.
This particular life experience has been a very powerful tool, and incorporating it into my writing has helped me enormously. Of course, I have had many very positive life events too, but oddly it seems to be the sad ones that fall naturally onto the page and make good reading. I hope she is out there somewhere, once again proud at what I’ve achieved, and I don’t just mean my book. However, there is a tiny part of me that is also glad that she can’t actually read it – there are some things a mother doesn’t need to know about, and my sexy imagination is one of them!