By Stacey Caruso Makeup

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2016 – A year of sadness, a year of change, a year of lessons learned.

2016 was my first full year without my mum, so admittedly it was going to be a tough one. Some of you may have read my previous story from 2015 about being without your mum at xmas, which I wrote just after she had passed in September. (you can read it HERE).

It feels like yesterday that I was by her bedside, holding her hand during those last precious moments as her body gave in to all the pain and suffering and allowed her soul to finally be free. The memory of the days that followed are as clear in my mind as if they had happened only days ago too. Planning her funeral, choosing what music, what outfit to put her in, if we should have a coffin or casket – these are all things that you can’t even comprehend doing at the time but the numbness that takes over you at that point allows you to get through it, kind of on auto pilot if you will. 

This is not something that you get over anytime soon, just an “FYI”, despite the days, weeks and months that have passed, the pain and sadness that you feel within your soul from a loss like this is still as fresh and raw as it was back then.

The difference is now, it feels less like a tsunami of pain washing over you where you can’t come up for air, and more like a rip in the ocean that you get caught in for a moment but are able to safely swim back to shore from.

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Some people I’m sure think “a year has passed, time to move on and live your life”, but what they don’t understand is that after the funeral, their lives have pretty much carried on like normal whereas mine is forever changed and I have to learn to live without my mum and deal with the fact that she is not here, every single day.

One of my best friends lost her mum only 3 weeks after mine and I know this is something that she has struggled with a lot, with her work colleagues and circle of friends. People just don’t get it.

Unless you have gone though it, you cannot possibly understand what it feels like to lose the person who brought you into this world. Now please don’t misunderstand me when I say that. I am not saying that my loss is any more tragic than anyone else’s or that people can’t sympathise with my pain. Loss is loss, I get that, and there are people out there who do not have a close relationship with their mothers or either parent for that matter. But just as there are different types of love, there are different types of loss. The love you have for a child, partner or parent are very different from one another so losing any one of these significant people from your life would be a different kind of pain.

I am not a parent so I cannot even fathom the pain of watching one of my children suffer from illness or losing my child, as so many people have unfortunately had to go through in their lives. I can only talk about my pain, my loss, and how it has affected me and the person that I am today.

As time goes on I do find that the really emotional moments are fewer and farther between. It may be a song that triggers the tears, a memory of a childhood moment spent together or a conversation shared – these often seem to appear out of nowhere, like a star in the night sky, but can bring on feelings of happiness, sadness and most of all a longing, wishing that she was still here to enjoy life’s pleasures with.

I sat with my Aunty the other night and watched Fifty Shades of Grey (yes guilty lol) and said to her that I wished mum was here to watch this with me. Now you wouldn’t think that Fifty Shades would bring up memories of mum (LOL) but we used to watch Sex and the City together every week and she loved it. I can only imagine her sitting there with me watch Fifty, gasping and tutting at the blatant display of sex, almost embarrassed, and it’s this kind of stuff that really makes my heart ache, because there is so much I want to tell her, that I would love to share with her but unfortunately I am at a loss and have to accept that I can’t. Life goes on, sure, but I will never be the same Stacey that people knew beforehand.  

I personally have had a very tough last 6 months of 2016. What started off as an exciting year, travelling to Mexico and being maid of honour for my best friends wedding and experiencing a country and culture that I so longed to be immersed in, turned out to be a year of personal struggle, emotional heartache, career challenges and anxiety causing drama. It was like, “how much shit can we pile on top of Stacey at once to see how tough she is?!” I moved states, moved house, started a new job and relationship all at once and within a matter of weeks/months it all turned into a pile of shit.

Now I would not consider myself an impulsive person, but I do follow my heart and trust my instincts and follow the signs that are laid out for me, but in this case the signs lead me completely in the wrong direction and down a path that was to cause me a lot of grief. At the time it seemed as though it was all meant to be – all that I thought I wanted was pretty much handed to me on a platter – and ironically during the short time that I was interstate I felt my mum around me so much. I would hear that Simon and Garfunkel song  “Cecelia” on the radio almost every other day (mum’s name was Celia), see feathers or butterflies often in obscure places or just feel her energy around me constantly. If you have lost someone you know the comfort that these small signs give you, it’s like a message from that person that you miss so much. At the time I felt it was her giving me her blessing, but now I look at it and know that she was around me because she was worried for me, and protecting me. 

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The day that the crap truly hit the fan so to speak, was absolutely 100% my mums doing. The information that I discovered that morning was an absolute slap in the face but I have no doubt it was her, opening my eyes and allowing me to discover what was REALLY going on in the situation at hand.

This wasn’t my fault at all, and she showed me what the truth really was. I remember standing in the bathroom, raging with anger and hurt and looking up at the ceiling and whispering “I love you mum” and “thank you” because she had saved me from further pain, self blame or time wasted with people that don’t deserve my energy.

This was confirmed to me when I flew back to Adelaide that evening to be with my sisters for the 12 month anniversary of mum’s passing. Whilst waiting at the gate, emotionally wrecked, my mums long time friend and woman who cared for her over several years, just happened to be there waiting at the same gate for a flight back to Adelaide. Seeing her brought me to tears, because after the emotional day I had, it was like my mum had sent her there to look after me, to let me know that everything was actually going to be ok, and to make me laugh again during the flight back.

I can laugh about all that happened now, because seriously you could not read about it and believe it were true! A friend even joked to me about it saying “oh well, it’s another chapter for your book” (the book that I do intend to write one day). However I almost feel blessed now that it all happened and fell apart as quickly as it did and that I didn’t waste months or even years in an unhappy situation.

My mum’s strength is something that is so evident to me today and something that I hold safe and near and dear to my heart. People have made comment on how strong I am as an individual and with pride I know that I have got that from her.

 Mum is my guardian angel, no doubt about that and I hope that those of you who have lost loved ones feel that as much as I do and can take comfort in the signs that are laid out for you.

They might seem silly to others, but you know deep within you, that they are messages from those that have passed, guiding you in the right direction.

What I have learnt from this year and being without my mum for over 12 months now, is that no one can tell you how to grieve or how long is acceptable to grieve your lost loved one. You do whatever it is you need to do to get through each day at a time, and take as much time as you need to rediscover yourself and the person you are or want to be without them in your life.

There are things I have learnt about myself since my mums passing, and lessons that I’ve had to endure that have showed me some truths about myself and what I want for my life. It has shown me who my true friends are, the ones who are there to support and listen to me no matter what time of day or night or how many times I may make mistakes or fall down – they are there to pick me right back up again. I don’t know what I would have done without them during these dark times of the past, but I feel truly blessed to have a circle of people who love me for who I am and are there for me despite the distance between us or time we have not spoken.  

As much as I wish that I could rewind the clock and do the last 6 months differently, I have to accept what is and have faith that it is all leading me to a happier/better place in my life. I have a new job that has introduced me to a new circle of people, who have provided me with much needed laughter over the last few months that I am eternally thankful for. I have a new roomie and a home, back by the beach (where I belong) and I am now in a better headspace to get back to the things that I love such as my freelance work, writing my personal blog and of course being a proud Adelady.

2017 is the year of The Rooster, it is my year, I have no doubt about that. I can’t wait to see what exciting opportunities lie ahead, to make new memories with those that I love, and to learn more about myself.

I am going to love myself for the person that I am and to look forward to the person that I am going to become. And most of all I want to put my mum at ease and let her know that she can take a breather from worrying about her youngest daughter! Go put your feet up mum and have a glass of Baileys with the other angels up there! I got this mum, I’m gonna make you proud.

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