I don’t say it enough but I couldn’t cope without you. Life, especially since I was first diagnosed with IBD, has been extremely hard and I honestly have to say that without your determination, strength and support I would have crumbled a long time ago. There I have said it. Words alone can’t express what you mean to me and get close to everything you have done as the main person in my life, but seeing as it’s Mother’s Day (and I’m well overdue writing this) in this short blog post I’m going to try to put my feelings down on paper (well screen).
Since the first second I was born I have been a drama queen, causing you endless heartache, challenges, battles and trauma. From the moment you set eyes on my tiny premature body you should have known life with me was never going to be a walk in the park, that I was always going to be the dramatic one. When I was born so premature, tiny and weak, you and dad fought with every ounce of breath in your bodies to keep me alive, you didn’t give up on me and 26 years later you are still fighting, and I know you will never give up!
You were the first person I told about my symptoms. I had been so stupid hiding them from you and I know now that I put you, dad and Hannah through hell by trying to conceal them. God knows what was going through your head as you watched you daughter wither away before your eyes. I was frightened to tell you, horrified of what you might think of me, terrified you would think I was a freak. Don’t ask me why I felt that way, why I didn’t think you would want to help me, why you wouldn’t understand and accept that something was wrong. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust you, it was that I didn’t understand and I thought if I didn’t talk about it the symptoms would simply go away. I know now that isn’t the way things work….I learnt the lesson the hard way and I know now that by not asking for help I risked everything and drove a massive wedge between us. But when I told you it was a weight off my mind, and you, as always, comforted and supported me – something you still do now.
Over the years I’ve not always been the best daughter. We’ve had our moments, and I’ve said things I will always regret in the heat of the moment, a lot of which I know can never be erased. I’ve not always told you what you mean to me, how much I appreciate even the smallest things you have done or how much I love you. I hope that even though I don’t always express it that you know you mean the world to me, even when I’m tired, exhausted, stressed and moody. Our family means the world to me and I know we will always be close.
For all the hours holding my hand in A&E, arguing with doctors and nurses, helping me change my ostomy bag, making sure I didn’t starve to death and washing my bloodstained body after surgery after me lying in my own filth for days, I thank you. From the major – like calming me down when I went into septic shock and sitting for hours and hours waiting for news in the visiting room – to making sure my Ensure drinks were in the fridge, you have always had my best interests at heart. You are the reason I have never run out of toilet roll; never had to live solely off baked beans; I never come into contact with feather pillows sparking my allergy; and I’m never given the wrong treatment in hospitals. You are also the reason I’m here today.
As a child you and dad provided an endless world of fun and adventures for me and Hannah. I always sense your disappointment when you talk about a trip or day out that I simply can’t remember…I always wish I could. We had such fun camping in forests and close to beaches, racing through the long grass in our Robin Hood outfits shooting sucker-end arrows at passers-by, while you climbed trees and got caught red-handed by the Sheriff of Nottingham. You got us involved in every community group going, and gave me the gift of music, and taught me the importance of giving something back to the neighbourhood. Whole other kids ate alone in their rooms, hung around on street corners and hardly saw their parents, you made sure we were a solid family unit, always eating together, spending weekends making dinosaurs out of twigs and making our own paper, and going to the theatre and concerts as a family.
Both you and dad have been selfless. I know now that everything you have done has been for me and Hannah. Over the past 27 years you haven’t once thought of yourselves. You saved for us to go to university, have dug us both out of financial holes and always put our welfare first. I hope that one day I can pay you back, but I know the chances of that happening are very small. We have visited some amazing places and experienced once-in-a-lifetime trips due to your determination to show us the world. I may not have appreciated visiting every castle in England as a teenager, but I wish now I could go back and tell my younger self to put her mobile phone down and enjoy the scenery and time together because life is simply too short. I’m so glad you are both taking some time to yourselves now that you’re retired. I just hope you will be able to jet off and do some of the things you have always talked about, like teaching abroad, going around the world, now that my illness isn’t holding you back.
You know me better than I know myself most of the time. At times I have tried to hide flares from you to stop you being upset, but I can tell you always know when I’m sick. I love the little book you keep with all my medication, treatments, dates etc written down. You often manage this better than me. I know you’ve always said if you could take this away from me and carry the burden yourself you would, I couldn’t bear that. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy – I hate to see you ill, I couldn’t bear it if anything happened to any one of us, you have given me strength and hope in the darkest moments of my life.
So happy Mother’s Day mum. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what a wonderful, charismatic, sometimes crazy, bubbly, energetic, caring person you are. You and me are so similar, and I get my tenacity, determination, humour, ambition, eagerness to learn, kindness and often quirky habits from you. Keep doing the brass banding, asking old men where the town called Fart is, sticking your head in deadly spider’s webs, belly dancing and ballroom dancing, wearing rainbow pop hats and inventing obscure and sometimes inappropriate companies, oh and cooking amazing dairy free puddings and Christmas Dinners.
Don’t ever change. I love you.