Over the past few weeks, during my time out here at BrocanteHome, I have sifted through sixteen years of blog posts deciding which would come with me into the next stage of Brocante’s evolution, and reliving all my highs and lows along the way.
Some days I laughed as I shared all the Finnicism’s in my memory box with a little boy who is now on the very verge of manhood, and other nights I sat in bed, laptop propped on my knee and tears tripping me as I saw in black and white how things that should never have been, did come to be regardless. It is so odd to have the opportunity to revisit thought patterns in this way. To look at them in retrospect with more understanding and to want to go back and wrap yourself up in cotton wool so mistakes could not be made. It is a gift and a tragedy. Like time travel without a wise and kind Doctor at your side.
Other days as I matched old images with long forgotten posts I discovered words I have no memory of writing, others that conjured up exacting scenes, smells, moments. Some days I remembered who I was and others I found myself astonished by who I used to be and how life could now feel so far away from what I had believed in, hoped for, and imagined.
But in amongst it all, some truths remain writ large among the silliest of stories and the most torrid and often ludicrous of tales: I am a daughter. I am who I am because of them. And it is in these posts, these reflections on what it is to be somebodies all grown-up child that I found the best of me. These posts that I found most poignant, with my Mum now gone and my Dad no longer mine to rely upon.
But daughter is a noun, not a verb. I am still a daughter aren’t I? I am still a daughter even when parenting is no longer something actively happening to me. I am still a daughter because my head is full of all memories and lessons I will always treasure and that will always be mine even when physical and emotional reassurance is now so very out of reach.
So it is the post below, written in 2005, that was my undoing. For all of the reasons above and so much more. For the little girl I would never have and the old lady my beautiful Mum would never become. For love that couldn’t be and love that turned out to be conditional.
On Being a Daughter, September 5th, 2005
Before Finley was born, Mark and I called my bump, LilyFinn. Lily for a girl and Finley for a boy. But from the minute my pregnancy was confirmed I was convinced I was having a girl for a long list of retrospectively, stupid reasons – I’m a girly girl so there was no way I could possibly give birth to a boy, and aside from that Gabriel was the bestest little boy in the whole wide world and I didn’t want a son of my own to have to compete.
At twenty weeks we went for our scan. Before we had even been asked whether we wanted to know the sex of our child, the radiographer told her colleague: “There’s the heart, there’s the lungs and there’s his little prick”. I was absolutely gobsmacked! How totally inappropriate and inconsiderate can you be? But after the shock, came total and absolute disappointment.
I do know that it isn’t the done thing to wish for one sex or the other. That the standard answer to “Do you want a boy or a girl” is “I don’t mind as long as it is healthy”. I know that. But I didn’t say it. I wanted a girl with every inch of my being. I wanted a daughter, and more than that I wanted the kind of relationship I have with my Mum. I wanted a girl who felt about me, the way I do about my Mum. I wanted to be loved like that.
I don’t know how to put into words what it is to be a daughter of a woman like my Mum. I know now what is to be a Mother, but I am still struggling to understand the bond that exists within the complex and fragile relationship between a Mother and her daughter. I don’t know what it is to be a daughter above and beyond the fact that it is astonishing to be blessed enough to walk in the footsteps of an incredible woman.
It is no secret in our house that I am a Daddy’s girl. I look like him, think like him, even have his nose (according to my Dad!!). But I am her Daughter, and it is her strength, her precarious, fragile strength that runs through my veins. It is her I want to be when I grow up.
She is the kind of woman other women always wanted to be. She is and always has been shockingly beautiful, though at the age of fifty-five, she is only just beginning to realise it. But I don’t think that it matters. Her life has been what it has, she is the person she is because she didn’t know it.
Look at her now: see how her hands are always moving- containing the nerves others who don’t know her, would never imagine are there. She is complicated and delicate and occasionally, I rightfully feel that I hardly know her at all, and I think that this is what being a daughter is about. Not friendship. Nor admiration. But a love so fierce for a woman you can never really know, at least not in the way you are given the opportunity to know every other woman you will ever meet.
Part of me thinks that my Lily is still out there somewhere. But I will never meet her. She is a possibility now passed, and if we are blessed with a little girl in the future, she won’t be called Lily. The day of the scan, I went straight to Mum’s house and cried for hours in my her arms. Although I was all grown up, and carrying a child of my own, I was for a moment, a little girl again, seeking the kind of reassurance only a Mother can provide. Five month’s later, it is my Mums face I remember as she rushed down the hospital corridor to meet her newly born grandson, and the photograph I treasure most, a close up of Finley, just one hour old, with my hand gripping his and my Mum’s gripping mine. I am her. She is me.
She, who I need most.
She is gone and I miss her so much and he isn’t, but is now un-reachable and that is a kind of missing I can neither fathom, nor come to terms with. But I am still a daughter. I am still a daughter.