‘If ever there comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever’.
Winnie the Pooh
In 2019 my mum died quite quickly of bowel cancer. She was a challenge to love sometimes and not always the most maternal of mums, and she cost me a lot in therapy but I loved her nonetheless!
True to her nature, on receiving the news of her prognosis she confirmed she had made no plans for her funeral, and would “leave it up to us” (her children) to sort that out.
I sat mum down to ask her what she wanted in terms of her funeral and the conversation turned to music. When I asked her what her music choices were she pointedly said “I want you to sing”. As a kid, that had been something she really noticed me for and it seemed at the end of her life this was important to her again. I eventually got her to concede that singing at your own mother’s funeral is a bit of a tough gig so we agreed I would record something.
It was too hard to write a song given all that was going on, and mum couldn’t/ wouldn’t pick one, insisting I choose for her. She died shortly after that conversation, and it was so hard to choose a song that reflected our relationship. Eventually, I chose ‘Bridge over troubled water’ because the lyrics really offered me some meaning about her and our relationship.
I remember going to record it and it being so overwhelming emotionally that I knew I had to get it in one take or, end up crying all day in the studio. It was hard to do but, hugely cathartic to belt out all the emotions I was feeling.
So why am I writing this? Well, the song popped up on my iTunes today, completely took me by surprise and once again took me back to mum and made my heart smile.
I couldn’t listen to it for a long time but, now it helps me honour her memory because I can hear how I felt when I sang it, and it invites lots of good memories.
How we find meaning in grief is relative and personal. We might not find it for ages and, it is never going to feel worth more than our loss.
When a loved one’s story is over, we are unlikely to ever be quite the same. Our stories continue however, and I invite you to be curious about how yours will read.