Chapter Six

The end of my life as I knew it

I got on with my evening, watched a couple of documentaries and went to bed at around midnight.  Georgia always slept on my bed.  In those days I used to be a really deep sleeper, I could literally sleep on a clothesline if necessary and sleep through a third world war!  I was woken up at around 2 am with Georgia barking.  I couldn’t work out what was going on at first but quickly realised that someone was knocking at the front door.  I threw my dressing gown on and ran downstairs.  I opened the front door and found my brother and his fiancé Lisa on the doorstep.  Then I knew before they spoke.  I just screamed no no no and ran upstairs to the toilet before I shat myself.  

My tummy is the first thing to go when I am faced with anything I can’t deal with.  I came back downstairs and found out that the police had found Robert and Lisa at a party in Warrington and took them to identify my mum’s body.  All I wanted to do was go home and be near her.  Rob & Lisa had been drinking so had got a lift to my house from Lisa’s brother.  He was working the next day so couldn’t stay and just dropped them off and went.  I didn’t have a car so I rang my dad to see if he would come and get us.  Bless him he did, and he was devastated by the news too.  

My dad dropped Robert and Lisa off at their house and then took me and Georgia back to my mum’s.  Charlie was just curled up on my mum’s bed.  My heart was breaking on so many levels.  My dad stayed with me for a while before going back to his house.  I went to bed in my mum’s bed and tried to sleep for a while.  I only slept for about an hour or so and was up at 6 am chain-smoking until it was a decent enough time to start ringing people with the news.

I needed to find out what had happened.  The police contacted me and came to speak to me on Sunday.  It turns out that my mum took Charlie for a walk at around ten past 5.  My mum’s house was opposite the Bridgewater canal and normally she would walk down the canal bank and back but due to the foot and mouth restrictions, the canal bank was closed.  Instead, she walked down the road that narrows once you get out of the village and it’s just a thin footpath with fields on either side.  A young lad was driving down the road in his company car.  It had recently been raining so the road was still damp, he lost control on a bend and the car veered across the road and knocked my mum to the ground.  The car was travelling in the same direction as my mum was walking so she would never have seen it coming. 

This knock to the ground did not kill her but would have knocked the wind out of her.  Before she could get up the front driver’s side wheel dug into the soft grass verge forcing the car to stop abruptly and the back end flip up, pirouette, and fall back down roof first landing on my mum from the tummy down basically crushing her internal organs and upper legs.  Immediately after the accident, a woman travelling from the other direction ran over to try and help my mum by attempting to lift the car, but it was impossible, it was too heavy.  The lady held my mum’s hand as she slipped away and said that she didn’t think my mum had suffered, she was dead before she realised what had happened. She also said that just before she died my mum looked into the distance and smiled almost like she had seen someone.  This gave me quite a lot of comfort on more than one level, firstly because I want to think she had people waiting for her and also because I want to believe that when I die she will be waiting for me.

My mum didn’t have any identification on her, just the key to the back door.  They realised which house it was because Charlie was sitting outside the back door, bless her.

It’s really hard to try and put the next days and weeks into words.  I moved back into my mum’s house and slept in her bed with the dogs, sleep was the only time I was free of grief and that second or two when you first wake up before remembering the reality.  The next week was filled with telling everyone about the accident, including the banks and utilities and everyone else and arranging the funeral.  I had to decide what she wore to be buried in.  Anyone that knew my mum will know that she loved her clothes and had several wardrobes full.  I didn’t know what to choose so I literally opened all the wardrobe doors, sat on the edge of the bed and asked her to help me.  To my absolute delight, a navy blue suit fell off a hanger right in front of me, so that is what she wore.  

I was in two minds about whether or not to see her in the mortuary but decided I would.  She had badly damaged the left side of her face when she had fallen as the mortician had put a veil across it but I could still see that it was torn & marked.  It was clearly my mum’s body, but it wasn’t really her.  My mum was her spirit, her personality, her optimism and fun and all her other positive and negative attributes, this body was just her vessel and without the intangible bits, it wasn’t really her.

The funeral was on the 19th of March 2001, there was a church service as my mum was religious even though she rarely went to church, she was then buried in Fox Covert cemetery in Appleton.  It’s beautiful and the view stretches across the whole of Warrington.  The church was so packed and people that had known my mum years ago came from all over the country to say goodbye.

Now I had to put my big girl pants on and decide how to move forward.  Josie, he mum of a girl I went to school with came to see me soon after the funeral and she gave me the best bit of advice I have ever had.  She said that I will never get over losing her, I will simply learn how to live without her.  This is the most honest thing anyone has ever said to me and it is so so true.  There has not been one single day that I haven’t thought about her, or wished she was still here, all that bullshit about time being a great healer is just that, bullshit.  I miss her today the same as I missed her last year, ten years before that and the day she died.  Those feelings I have are exactly the same, the only difference is I have gotten used to not seeing her or speaking to her, but I still love her and still miss her every single day.

Sometimes I dream about her and the dreams are always very similar.  For example, we are both in a supermarket and she is down one aisle and me another, I know she is there but I just can get to her.  Another is ill be on a train station platform and she is on the train but the train doesn’t stop at this station.  Again I know she is there but I just can’t get to her.  I think this is true in waking life too, I truly do believe that she is still around me, I used to smell her perfume when I still lived up North, but since moving to Swindon 12 years ago, I don’t smell her anymore, but I talk to her and get comfort from that.

I never went back to my house in Manchester, I ended up renting it out for a while before selling it.  My mum hadn’t made a will so I ended up doing all the probate myself, the debts were paid, the assets sold and the money was split between my brother and me.  I bought a house in Runcorn, not far from my Dad and Joyce and Robert bought a house in Warrington with his then fiancé Lisa.