I don’t know how I ended up here.
In this house on my own.
The last time I was here I was 17 and waving goodbye as I went on a night out, ignoring her pleas to find a longer skirt and lower shoes and rolling my eyes.
The last time I was here I was sat next to my big brother and his wife, drinking sherry and laughing about life, feeling grown up and loved as she cooked us dinner and bustled around us making memories.
The last time I was here I was saying goodbye and going abroad. I was excited and anxious; I was full of talk and attitude. She was in the kitchen preparing food parcels and hiding her tears.
The last time I was here I sat and reveled in the love my brother always had emanating from him, from where he always sat in the corner, as the Irish voices and English accents mixed together to create in me a feeling of belonging. My brother and I giggling and poking fun at my mum’s expense, as she laughed herself, and swiped at us playfully.
The last time I was here the police had knocked on the door at 5am.The kitchen was full of her friends, but she wasn’t here. She was identifying her son in the morgue. I sat waiting for him to walk through the door and shout ‘kidding!’ but he never did. I saw the police car pull up bringing her back a broken woman.
The last time I was here there was a casket in front of me on a stand on the rug. There was drinking and laughing and tears and prayers. There was a priest. He was in a box. The rest of us were bleeding out our pain while he laid still, emanating nothing anymore. The last time I was here I whispered my final goodbye’s as my mum made cups of tea and issued cuddles.
The last time I was here I was sat with my mum and we felt Addison kick. I told her I was scared of labour and she busied herself with raised eyebrows and avoided the issue by showing me the things she had bought for his arrival.
The last time I was here I was staring at my phone trying not to fall asleep and miserably distracted as she encouraged Addison to crawl. I couldn’t even watch.
The last time I was here I was wishing her son wasn’t dead so that I could die instead, while she tiptoed around trying to pick up the pieces.
The last time I was here I watched my son climb all over her as she made us ham sandwiches and we laughed at his use of language. ‘Wow a sandwich again, wow!’
The last time I was here was last Sunday.
I took it for granted. Her being here. Her being part of us.
Her bustling, her food parcels, her smiles, her laughter and her ‘oh it’ll all be ok in the end.’
And now I am here.
And I am the only one.
It smells the same, but the air is still.
There are no shrieks from my 2 year old, there is no kettle on and chatter about books and life, and there is no big brother sitting laughing in the corner.
There are ornaments and a rug and four walls.
There is an echo of what used to be.
I can hear it so clearly in my minds eye.
They are all so close those moments, I can taste and smell them.
I feel that perhaps, if I whip my head around fast enough, I will see them played out again in front of me. Catch them in my heart for good.
‘Hi Brigid, Is everything ok?’
I was getting out of the bath.
Why is my mum’s my best friend calling me?
Maybe she is calling me about a surprise party?
It took me a long while to get dressed.
I couldn’t think straight.
I pulled out tights and a towel, a hairbrush and a skirt that was far too short and far too tight. I pulled out anxiety and fear, and disbelief and strength and courage, I pulled out fear, fear was everywhere.
I was reading my book in bed, everything was ticking along nicely, how does this happen?
The next time I am here, she will be with me.
The next time I am here, we will be laughing.
The next time I am here, we will be creating more memories.
She will get better.
I shout in to the empty room that he should be here with me, caring for her together.
I scream through the tears that we should be leaning on each other.
I feel angry with him. I tell him I hate him for being dead.
I hate you!
I feel lonely.
I feel lost.
I feel fear.
I go to grab the bits she needs for the hospital and as I open the kitchen cupboard, a shopping bag filled to the brim with my favourite salt and vinegar square crisps falls out.
She has to get better.
She is my mum.