I had my first girls holiday before going back to my second year of sixth form- Gran Canaria. I was so disorganised that my passport didn’t arrive until the day before we flew! I could not live like that now. My mother did what she could to help with spending money and holiday clothes as I didn’t earn much at my weekend job; I think we did well to pull it together.
The holiday gave me a taste of what I wanted most in the world; freedom from worry. While I was there, I can honestly say that I didn’t worry about anything more than whether to have schnapps or tequila and what bikini to wear. It was amazing. Two weeks of being a normal teenager on holiday.
I came back to Earth (okay, Wales) with a bit of a bump after that. The girls I’d gone with were going off to uni, as was D but I was staying put and my mother was not getting any better. The second year of sixth form started abysmally to be honest; my attendance was lower than ever and I was constantly being pulled up on lack of effort. I had lost all ambition. At that point in time, I believed that I wouldn’t amount to anything so there was no point in putting in any effort. Going to uni didn’t feel like an option; how could I study and play nurse to my mother? It didn’t feel like the life destined for me.
My mother turned 40 that year and I turned 18. We both believed the same thing about our respective ages; that life would now begin.
Just before I turned 18, in the November, my sister gave birth to my beautiful niece. We were all really happy for a little while after that.
My 18th birthday went by with only the usual teenage angst- who to invite and where to go. It also brought on the need for a big decision from me, as a technical adult now I could work full-time and support the house a bit more- as well as be able to afford other things I wanted to do. I made the decision to not go back to school after Christmas and get a full time job instead. My teachers seemed genuinely upset by this as they could see all of the potential in me. I just wasn’t in a position then to act on it.
I got a full time job in the Wimpy pretty fast. In all honesty, it’s one of my favourite jobs I’ve ever had. I worked with some great people and learned a lot.
A couple of months – and a lot of breakdowns from my mother – later, my mother and I had a pretty big fight. It got very heated and I ended up hitting and pushing her in self-defence. She was lashing out like she didn’t even know it was me. I phoned my eldest sister in fits of tears over what had happened and she ended up taking my little sister and I in for a little while. It was a nice break to live with her, B and my nephew and I ended up staying longer than my little sister.
I went back to my mother after a couple of months, I think, but went to stay with my dad soon after. She was still too ill and I couldn’t be around her, she was always drinking these days and her episodes were getting worse and worse. D and I struggled with me being at my dads as it was further away from each other than we were used to so I arranged to move in with a friend for a while. The night before I moved in with my friend, I got a text from my mother. “I know you’re living at your dads and it’s okay. As long as you have a roof over your head and are happy then I am happy. Love you, Mam x”. I haven’t seen this text message in years but I still remember it word for word.
Things with meaning stick.
A week or so after moving in with my friend, I went to my mother’s house. She was sat on the settee alone and looked so sad. I felt a childlike need to cheer her up so went and lay next so her with my arms around her waist and head on her lap, just like when I was a child. We stayed there for I don’t know how long. I kissed her and told her I loved her before I left that day.
Just a few days after, I got home from work and received 14 missed calls from my eldest sister. When I called her back she told me to get to my nans house fast as I could. My mother should have been on a ward but I had a gut feeling that she wasn’t.
I got to my Nan’s to find my family in the kitchen. The words that followed floored me.
“It’s Mam, she’s gone. She’s dead”