The time of year is approaching that I find very difficult. It is the time of year where I remember both the good and the bad in you. You were always the life and soul of parties, but in hindsight I understand now that alcohol played a large part in that. I was eighteen when you died almost four years ago, and in those years since your passing, I have seen one or two memories on my social media pages from friends posting comments such as ‘haha your mum was SO drunk last night’. At the time I was mortified, but seeing those posts I now mourn the sober mum who I didn’t really get the chance to know. I knew the person that was always drunk. Sometimes you would laugh endlessly but most nights would result in screaming arguments.  Years passed with alcoholism affecting our lives, but eventually, your body was too small and frail to cope with the illness of addiction.

I know that behind the alcohol was resilience and the desperation to do everything possible for your daughters. There would be times when I was told not to answer the door to people who pulled up in white vans and valuable possessions were kept at relatives’ houses, as you were too ill to work and money was sparse. I loved you but I hated you. I resented you for drinking, and when my sister left for university, as a fourteen-year old I could no longer cope. I left you and I often dwell on the guilt of whether I left you to die that day. Three years from when you passed away. Most of the memories I now hold of you are the ones of you cherishing me and loving me. The strength of your love still teaches me to persevere, and I am no longer ashamed of the circumstances of your death.

You were strong but you were so ill and that is not your fault or anyone else’s. Each year as I grow older I respect you and the choices that you had to make as a mother. I love you and miss you, and still cringe at the thought of being told to raise a glass of wine in your memory. Yet I thank you dearly for making me the woman that I have become. If I ever have children of my own, I will tell them the circumstances of your death, as I would if you had died of a more socially accepted illness. I will always be proud and grateful for the woman you were and mostly for being my mum.