But before you hang up, perhaps I should have said this:
Let’s make a plan.
When I come see you tonight, when we do a little cooking, we should work out birthday celebrations. I know it seems a long way off, but 11th August will come around quick.
Perhaps we should talk about your 50th. You know, celebrate life. Do you think maybe a theme?
I mean, it would be nice to have all the family there. Us kids, your grand kids. We could listen to Tina Turner. You could do that weird prancy horse dance to Simply the Best until you laugh so hard your teeth fall out.
Perhaps we can talk about the next 25 years.
How they can go slow and fast at the same time.
We can talk about graduations, and marriages, and jobs, and travel and what to do when your heart is broken, and all those adult things that you just have no idea about.
Perhaps I can ask you all the questions about motherhood. Find out if I was a fussy eater as a kid or if I slept through as a baby, or what my first word was, so when my kids ask me questions, I have an answer that isn’t “I don’t know.”
Perhaps we can plan one of those trips that other mothers and daughters go on.
You know – we could go somewhere fancy, like New York or Paris or we could go camping and prospecting for gold out at Mount Magnet for old time’s sake… see if we find any nuggets. We’ve got time to do them both, right?
Perhaps you can show me where the old tattered red cook book is that has all your hand written recipes in it – you know – the one with the amazing pumpkin scones, and the plum pudding. Maybe we can cook something from that book for dinner. I love that book.
Ooh, I know!
Perhaps we can do a high tea, and make scones for your birthday. Or a Pav. I mean, I love cooking, I’m glad we’ve got that. Ooh I could cook for your birthday – that would be cool. Let’s make a menu plan over dinner. But someone will have to design the invites.
I didn’t get your arts and craft skills.
Speaking of which….
Perhaps you can give me some tips for the future when I’m a grown woman and have kids and have to plan for stupid book week. Perhaps you can imagine meeting them, and them giving you a hug.
Perhaps you can imagine the babies you are yet to meet.
Watching them learn to walk, and dance, and play soccer. Hear them laugh. Smell their heads.
Perhaps we can eat an after dinner mint (maybe two) with a cup of tea and you can imagine all the times you will be needed. On the phone. In person. Not for anything except just to know that you are still there.
Perhaps you can tell me that the closer I get to the age you chose to turn out your light, the more I will realise just how young you were. That somedays it won’t hurt, that life will meander on and somedays I will feel everything in my chest all over again.
Perhaps I can tell you that in the future, no matter how much I try to avoid it, abandonment will come and sit beside me. Like a familiar sorrowful bully who I don’t really want to hang out with. The emotional bully who will poke at my chest while I try to hold in tears.
Even after all this time.
Perhaps, Mum, you can tell me that you are having a rough day, but you are glad we have a plan for your birthday.
And perhaps, instead of laying flowers in a grave yard, staring at a stone, or sending balloons up to the sky, we would be handing flowers to you in person, telling you how much you are loved and how grateful we are to still have you. And how amazing is it to be 75 today.
Perhaps what I really meant to say in 1994 was fight that darkness one more day, and stay. Tomorrow will be better.
Coz we have a birthday to plan. And a life to celebrate.
Perhaps I should have said more than I love you, too.
Before you hung up.
11 Aug 1944 – 12 Jan 1994