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Name: Madeleine Rose
Dreams of: Being a teacher
I can’t believe it is a few days before Christmas. I’m so excited and relieved that everything in Victoria has managed to sort itself out and I might be able to enjoy this summer Covid-free. With retail now blooming due to the buzz of Christmas, I am hoping I might get a job again. But my excitement about Melbourne opening up again is tempered by a sadness, and anger, about what this year has taken away from me. Not just my job, but my mum, too.
I didn’t write about her earlier, but it’s Christmas now so I’m thinking about her more. About a week ago, it was mum’s birthday. All I did to celebrate her day – all I could do – was to stare at a flower that I hastily threw at a patch of dirt.
Before lockdown, I had begun to reconnect with my mum after the years of separation and foster care I told you about in my last diary. I’d often go down to visit her in Dandenong. Her house was disgusting; discolouration on the walls, stains on the carpet, bugs crawling everywhere. But I didn’t care about any of that. All my life I desperately wanted someone to truly love me, unconditionally, and she did. I started to celebrate every occasion with my mum, Christmases, birthdays, and celebratory events. But with lockdown, I couldn’t go see her, I couldn’t celebrate anything.
I hadn’t seen mum for a few weeks when, in April, she went into the ICU with trouble breathing. With the lockdown restrictions, she could only have one visitor per day. When I did visit, that one time, I could only spend 10 minutes there before tears began to fill my eyes and I had to run out because seeing mum almost lifeless was just too much. Luckily she recovered, and everything returned to “Covid normal” (gosh I hate that phrase). But I wasn’t able to go visit my mum as she lived further than 5km radius from my home. Our restrictions forbade it.
Then, on a boring Tuesday night in July, my auntie called. She was crying. Both my sister and I crowded around the phone. All we could hear were her sobs. Through the sobs we found out: our mum was found dead on her couch at home. She was all alone.
It made my soul drop. Actually it shattered it. My mum should have been around the people she loved in her last moments. Those last days and weeks I could have had with my mum were taken away by our lockdown. Looking back at this time now, I become filled with unimaginable anger; how could something so invisible cause so much irreversible damage in my life?
Without a job or savings, I couldn’t pay for a proper burial for my mum. I just couldn’t believe that not only would I need to worry about my family and my grieving but I had to worry about how much things cost – why are funerals so damn expensive? A job and the money you get from it provides dignity not just for yourself, but it would have allowed me to give some dignity to my mum as we buried her.
The whole experience was so painfully lonely. With lockdown, no one could come over, give me a hug and tell me it’s going to be okay. The funeral actually made it worse – only 10 people could come including myself and no one dared to interact.
I woke up recently thinking about mum early in the morning, before the birds made a sound, and turned to look out the window. The morning clouds filled the pink sky, circling the sun, creating crepuscular rays. It was so beautiful. At that moment, I knew that wherever mum was she was okay. I cried for a long time for the first time and it wasn’t all sad tears. I felt the most content I have been in a while, like I could finally say: Goodbye, Mum!
This Friday is the one time of year where families make an effort to come and at least try to enjoy one another’s presence. That is what creates the magic of Christmas, but how am I supposed to be happy in these days before this celebration of family knowing I have to leave someone who means the world to me behind, and in this way? I really don’t want to celebrate this Christmas, I really don’t want to even think about it but it’s so hard because everywhere you look it’s just one big smack of green, red and gold.
I’m not going to miss this year, and all the devastation it brought. However, the news of a vaccine, Australia coming out of a recession and now being able to fill my embrace with the love of my family and friends has enchanted my soul with hope I haven’t felt all year. I am surprisingly very optimistic. I’m ready to take on 2021 .
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Losing my mum has been painfully lonely. I won’t miss the devastation of this year | Madeleine Rose | Australia news