March 21st 2015.
Today is the third anniversary of the loss of my mum.
I find March a tough month to navigate. The first turn leads to my birthday, and three years ago, this was the day our lives careered off course when, following joint surgery, my mum became seriously ill. Just over a week later, with Mum still in hospital, we ploughed into Mother’s Day. I’d bought two CDs for Mum as her Mother’s Day gift. She didn’t get the chance to listen to them. They are in my possession now, but I can’t bring myself to play them, even though a love of music was something Mum and I shared. In 2012, this was the day I realised precisely where the road was leading. The last three days of the journey took us to the 21st March – the start of Spring – and the end of the road – and we said goodbye to my wonderful, strong, fearless mum.
I’ve thought about her every day, often with a smile, as I recall something daft we did together, and sometimes with a tear when I so desperately want to tell her my news and then remember she’s no longer next door.
With March being so tricky to navigate, we factor in or are provided with comfort breaks, for want of a better term, making the long journey bearable.
Two weeks after we lost Mum, it was agreed that as a family, we needed something positive to focus on and look forward to, so four days after the first anniversary, my husband, children and I took a holiday together that left us with memories we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives. Disneyworld 2013 was a holiday of a lifetime, and I wrote a couple of blogs about it at the time, here and here. It was a time for regrouping and the start of the healing process.
Last year, on March 21st, there were two exciting occurrences. I had a cover reveal for Follow Me Follow You, and it was announced Kate Bush was putting together a live show. I am a huge Kate Bush fan. I mean humongous. From that point on, Mum’s anniversary took on a slightly different feel, as good memories were able to sit beside those darker ones. In the August, I was one of the lucky few with a ticket to the Kate Bush Before The Dawn show, and I know Mum would have been thrilled for me.
This year, another amazing incident happened. This time it was on Sunday 15th March, Mother’s Day.
A few years ago, I was next door, making my mum’s breakfast, when she called me into the living room to view a singer on TV.
‘Come and watch this lady,’ Mum said. ‘I think her name’s Paloma. You’ll really like her.’
I stood on the threshold between the kitchen and the living room, transfixed by the red-head with this incredible voice, belting out ‘New York’ – not the Frank Sinatra one, but this one.
Beating me to it, Mum purchased Paloma Faith’s debut CD, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? , to which we listened, and I was hooked. I have been ever since, finding inspiration in the words and music, and appreciating the hard work and artistry Paloma Faith puts into her songs and performances.
Two of my all-time favourite songs to sing live are New York, and Stone Cold Sober – both which appear on that first album.
Stay with me, because this is what happened last Sunday. And forget my adult/mature/sensible age – this was as exciting for me as it would have been if I was still in my teens.
I took my daughter to a Paloma Faith gig in Bournemouth, and during the performance of New York, a very special song for me, because, via my mother, it’s the one that introduced me to Paloma’s music, Paloma left the stage, walked down the aisle and greeted the fans.
And I had a moment.
Paloma and I shook hands and exchanged a nod.
It was fleeting, but it was magical, and it will remain with me forever. It was a brief connection to a person I admire and respect, and whose music always puts me in the same room with another woman I’ve admired and respected my entire life – my mum.
After the gig, as my daughter and I were walking back to the car, it occurred to me it was still Mother’s Day, and in my private, internal world of separate, seemingly unconnected incidents coming together to form a whole, another circle was complete.