It’s been a year since my mother died. A year without her laughter. A year without her smile. A year without her friendship. It’s been a year of heartache and sadness as I’ve readjusted to life without Mum. A year without… but also a year of surviving and growing and moving forward into the future that waits for me.
I was with Mum when she took her last breaths and in those last moments, I made a promise to her that I would carry her with me in my heart wherever I go. I promised that she would always be with me on my travels and adventures. And her presence has truly been felt as I’ve journeyed through these past 12 months.
To mark the sad anniversary of Mum’s death, I decided I would climb a nearby hill to watch the sunset, taking her along with me in my heart. From my cottage, it’s a 3-mile walk (6 miles total) to the summit and a climb I take regularly. Over the years, I shared many photos and videos from the summit, and Mum and I even enjoyed a video call or two from the top – once when the sun was setting. And so, this seemed a fitting way to remember Mum today.
I intended to make the climb early enough so that I would be at the summit at the exact time of her death (yes, morbid; but it gave me something to focus on). Sadly, student meetings meant I got away a bit late and I was still climbing at that moment. But I stopped and had a wee sip of some of Mum’s “cough syrup” whilst I spoke to her.
By then, the fog and mist had really started to settle in so I couldn’t see the views of The Pentlands. But I did notice that there was a lone red grouse perched atop the heather, not far off the trail. It was close enough to make out the lovely red ring around the eyes so I brought out my phone to take a photo. Only it began to fly away at that moment, leaving me with a couple of blurry, unidentifiable images and a relatively nice shot of the bird in flight.
Whilst I know the bird wasn’t Mum, I found it to be very moving to think of Mum’s spirit there in the bird’s energy.
Once the bird was out of sight, I continued my journey to the summit. It was getting foggier by the moment and I was not able to see the hill ahead – although the path itself was very clear and it was still a safe climb. But without the views, I just carried on climbing without stopping for photos.
Because I didn’t stop for scenic views, I reached the summit much faster than expected. But by then, the fog and mist were so thick that it wouldn’t be possible to watch the sunset. Which was a little disappointing, but it just means Mum and I will have to watch the sunset together another day.
I paused at the summit for a couple of moments to think and to have a wee toast to Mum. I carried some of her “cough syrup” in a flask that I got when she and I went on a whisky tasting during her 2012 visit to Scotland. I thought she would appreciate that.
After a few moments at the summit without a view, I turned around and made the climb down the hill. As I continued down, I could see the mist begin to fade at the top of the skyline hills and I began to see the sun peeking through the clouds. The golden rays brought me hope as they glowed through the clouds.
I miss her every day, but I’m so grateful for the strong, loving relationship we had. Life is blessed when your Mum is also your friend.