Ten years is a long time. The Rosetta mission launched ten years ago, travelled millions of miles and finally landed on a comet last week. Its incredible journey took it round the world several times and it zapped around Mars too.
I’ve not travelled quite so far (not in terms of distance at least) in the past ten years, but it has been an important and difficult journey for me too.
As Rosetta’s lander Philae held on, sending back data while its batteries slowly drained, I thought of the start of my journey, which began with life slipping slowly away. A heartbeat, slowing, slowing and then finally stopping. The world as I knew it would never be the same again.
Ten years ago today, I lost the most important person in my life. The person that brought me into the world, that sparked my imagination and my desire to explore, to learn, to create and to see beauty in everything. The one who instilled in me the importance of kindness, thoughtfulness and creativity. The one who took me off the beaten path, opened the world up to me and left me with itchy feet and a desire to explore the world, meet new people and experience and appreciate everything I could.
Ten years ago, I sat by her side as my mother slipped away from me. Just me and mum. Mum and me. Together we had got through so much. We faced hardship and challenges and we did it together. We were a great team. We had something special – anyone who knew us could see it.
But then there was just me. Me and a dead body. A shell of what she was.
I felt very alone.
For ten years I have wondered how, or even if, I could survive without her. I’m still not sure I can, but I have. I don’t know if I’ve been cheating somehow – it doesn’t seem plausible that I could carry on without her.
But I have. I’ve taken her on adventures, carried her spirit with me. I’ve lived for the moment, I’ve taken every opportunity, I’ve done things she (and I) wouldn’t believe possible. I’ve tried to be strong for granny, I’ve tried to make a difference, in my own small way. I’ve tried to do my best and to inspire people. I’ve tried to share things and help others.
I’ve tried to make her proud.
I can’t believe she’ll never know that I worked for the BBC, had an article in a national newspaper and appeared on Sky News. I can’t believe she’ll never know how much I love space, and that I know astronauts – and that the head of NASA knows my name. I can’t believe she’s not here to tell me everything is going to be okay, or to cook for me or look after me when I’m poorly.
I can’t believe she’s not here, but that’s life, and I have to just keep on living. “Everything happens for a reason” she used to say. I’m not sure I know what the reason for this is, but I do my best to be there for others in the “special club” – those who’ve lost their mothers. No-one else can ever understand the pain or loss without experiencing it. I know she’d want me to find a positive, and if I can help people then that is a positive.
“This too shall pass” – this day will come and go. It’s just a day. She’s no more gone today than she was yesterday or will be tomorrow, but our obsession with days and round numbers and milestones means that today is a little hard.
Today is ten years. Ten years is a long time, but it’s also the blink of an eye.
Ten years without her has been tough, but she wouldn’t want me to give up, so I’ll keep going as best I can.
Cheers Mum, and thank you for all you gave me. I’ll take you on the best adventures I can. You’ll always be part of me.