The baby girl is born.
Unlike her older brother, his chest crushed as his little body made its way into the world some 18 months prior, she survives.
The little girl. The tummy ache. The party she doesn’t want to miss. The burst appendix. The stomach gangrene. She will not live, they say.
The young woman. A newlywed. An ectopic pregnancy. Almost total infertility.
She survives. And becomes a mother anyway.
The beautiful young woman. Such fun. The life of the party. Who drinks a bottle of sherry before she sets foot in that party. Who finds herself falling until she finds herself sober. A meeting. An alcoholic who never much cared for the anonymous part.
Just grateful that she survives.
A woman, middle-aged but still beautiful. A discovery. A lump in the breast. Cancer. Surgery.
The woman, half way through her life. A betrayal. A departure. Bankruptcy a lasting legacy to twenty-two years of marriage.
The woman, in the aftermath of a collapsed marriage. Pieces held together, barely. Early morning, still in her dressing gown. An intruder. A knife. Demands for cash and credit cards. And just because he can, just because he fucking can, a rape.
The woman, remarried, happily. A teenaged daughter. Step-children. A full-time job and full-time study.
She survives – with a graduate diploma and a new career as a drug and alcohol counsellor.
An older woman but never more vital. A wife. A friend. Granma.
My mother and my best friend.
I don’t want the words I have in my heart to be delivered as a eulogy that she is not around to hear. So I write them now.
Mumma, we are the imperfect pair, destined for one another from the very start.
I am unable to think of a world without you in it. It is the loneliest of feelings to even contemplate it. I have never stopped needing you. I can see now that I never will.
You are the single most frustrating woman I have ever known. The day when I can no longer sift through your inconsistencies and contradictions in that annoyingly superior way that I do, I will be lost.
You are the most courageous woman I know. And the silliest.
I have shaped so much of my world view around what you have taught me. And then you’ll say something so ridiculous that I begin to wonder if this was folly.
But I don’t mind so much. There are worse things I could grow up to be than my silly mother.
You and I know that there is a whole life around the handful of dates above. They don’t even begin to paint the picture. You are so much more than any one of those events. But they help illustrate what the human spirit can endure.
You have survived. But it’s so much more than that.
Your spirit is remarkable. You are remarkable.
But silly. Oh, so silly.
Happy Birthday, Mumma.