Yesterday was a month since I wrote the piece below and shared my eulogy from Mum’s funeral.
When I got home from the funeral, I felt the need to write it here, but I didn’t share it any further than quietly adding it to the website. But now, a month on from losing her to breast cancer, it feels like the right time to share it.
It’s still incredibly hard to know that at 34, I no longer have my mum to talk to.. to share Bella’s achievements with.. to laugh and cry with her.. I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve gone to pick up the phone and then I remember she’s not going to be at the other end.
I know with time that it’s all going to get a little easier – the heavy cloud that sits around me won’t always be there, the tears may not always be so close, and our memories will continue to remind me of how much she loved her family.
I am incredibly grateful for all the love and support our family and friends have shown, not only over the past month, but also over the past two years as the reality of mum’s diagnosis sunk in.
For the past two years, my mum has been battling breast cancer. Unfortunately last week her fight ended as she passed away at Rosebud Hospital on the 29th January.
How do you say goodbye to your mum? While I’ve had time to process that she would ultimately lose her battle with cancer, there was nothing that could be done to prepare for when that day would actually come.
Today was her funeral – a celebration of her short 56 years on this earth, and this is my last letter to my mum..
If you had told me two years ago, that I’d be standing here today, delivering this speech at your funeral, I’d have said you were telling me a very bad joke. Unfortunately, I will never forget when just days after Easter in 2017, we were dealt the cruelest twist of fate when Mike told me you had breast cancer and that the doctors said you only had months to live. Despite being given this initial time-frame, you fought your cancer battle with complete grace, despite the pain you must have been in, we never once heard you complain.
In the hospital last Tuesday morning, I told you that it was ok to stop fighting and that we’d all be ok. I honestly believed that with two years of preparing for this day, that I’d be ready for the moment you left us. But I now know that wasn’t entirely true – you can never honestly prepare yourself for saying goodbye to your mum! Whilst I’m still not ready for you to be gone, I am incredibly grateful that you are no longer in pain or suffering from the cruelness of cancer.
I know that you have always been incredibly proud of all five of us kids, but it wasn’t until you became a grandmother when Isabella was born that I truly saw how proud you were to be not only a parent, but a Nana. No matter what Isabella achieved, whether she was moving up a level at swimming, performing in the Mini Musical at school or learning how to tie her shoelaces at the hospital in Ballarat, you were always the first to tell her just how proud you were.
You have always encouraged and supported me no matter what I decided to do. Six years ago, you stood by and encouraged me to return to uni even though it would eventually result in a career change, and no matter how far-fetched the goals may have seemed you always told us to give it a go. When I’d tell you I’d submitted an assignment late, you’d ask how much notice we’d been given that the paper was due, and knowing full well that I’d usually had a semester’s notice, you’d still always understand why I hadn’t been able to get it in by the due date or time; you always encouraged me to continue with my studies.
You and I shared a love of ancestry, we would spend hours at the library on the family history databases, and while we generally started with Nana’s family, we’d often find something from another part of the family, get distracted and start working on that as well. I remember us often having papers spread out on the kitchen table as we tried to draw the various branches of the family and entering the data into spread sheets on the computer. We’d often ring each other just to say we’d found out something and checking if it was new or if the other already knew about it. I can honestly say that my love of reading about and studying history would have easily stemmed from spending so much time with you researching our own family history.
We shared a love for flowers, especially tulips. Growing up I remember you taking us to the Table Cape Tulip Festival in Tasmania. I look forward to continuing to take Isabella to the tulip festival in Silvan and sharing the same experiences there, that you and I shared when I was younger.
We also shared a love of movies, especially the classics. It wasn’t uncommon that out of all the movies available on video, and later DVD, that we would resort to some of our favourites something from the Rodgers and Hammerstein collection, Calamity Jane, or almost anything with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Out of everything you have ever taught me, the most important thing was how to be a good mother, and my only hope is that one day, I can be even half the mother that you were to me.
I picture you now with Nana, Grandad, Aunty Vicki and Uncle Norm, knowing that you will always be there, keeping an eye out for Isabella, Henry and all of us.
I’ll always love you!
Mum’s death from cancer was yet another life taken too soon. If, like us, you look forward to the day when no more families are affected by the loss of a loved one due to breast cancer, we encourage you to donate to breast cancer research, whether that be through a cash donation, attending a fundraiser or participating in events such as the Mother’s Day Classic.
Mum, tonight I’m raising my glass to you!