Moments That Made Me

Moments That Made Me – Sitting On The Kitchen Stool

I am privileged to publish this piece by Sandra who writes very movingly about the impact of losing her mother when she was only 13. Sandra explains in her unique and touching way how her mother’s tragic loss has brought her both great sadness and great strength. It is a heartfelt tribute to the special place that mothers hold forever in our hearts.

Sitting on a kitchen stool made me
Sitting on a kitchen stool aged 13 made me
I didn’t know it at the time
I wanted to be anywhere but there but, I couldn’t get down
For the world had changed since I got up there
For while I was up on the kitchen stool
I had been told that my mum had died
My beautiful mum
Was dead
With no warning
So I sat up there afraid
Afraid to get down until I understood what this actually meant
Like never, ever coming back
The finality of it was so overwhelming that I couldn’t do it
I remember sitting and looking at the floor
Everything had changed and the world was a terrifying place now
Where things happen that couldn’t happen
So I just remember sitting there
Wishing for the news to go away
But it stayed

And it has stayed forever

And all these years later I look back at the photographs
The carefree girl in the blue party jumpsuit
Whose mum was looking onward
As I blew out the candles on the last ever birthday cake she would ever make for me

And I think if only I had known
How it would be
I am pretty sure I would have never thought I would have the courage to carry on
With all that loss
By the loss of her guidance
Her absence at my wedding
With the unwitnessed births of my children
Through the struggle of becoming a mother with no one to turn to for advice
But that’s the thing I learned
Eventually you have to get down from the stool
And put your feet on very unfamiliar ground
And it hurts so much
But there is no choice but onwards
And although I have never ever forgotten my mum
I have learned to live without her
Something that back then seemed inconceivable
And by comparison, every other loss
Which life has invariably thrown at me
Has been almost nothing in comparison
A friend betrays you
An opportunity passes you by
A man leaves
For a heart can never quite be broken in the same way twice
For losing a mum
Feels like an act
Of violent unmothering
A plucking from safetly with a tear ravaged face, arms outstretched for her
Never to be returned

However by the simple act of continuing
A hellishly hard thing at the time
Which you don’t want to do
But you must do, by the very act of being alive
Healing comes
With the passage of time
And every loss since has become diminished
Every abandonment tempered
By the feeling of sitting on that stool
All those years ago
Feeling that I couldn’t get down
And thinking that since then
I have been married, divorced
Had two babies
Been around the world
Wrote songs and sung my deepest thoughts and fears on a stage
To people who listened kindly
Fallen in love, fallen out of love
Laughed with friends
And as a nurse now myself, watch people die
And tried to take away their pain
I have most definitely walked with my feet on the ground again
I have found myself on that stool staring at the ground
So many times since during all these years following
And each time I have got down
I have learned to trust
That if I can move on past that loss
I can move on past anything
Because the worst thing already happened
But I am still here

Sandra Payne

7 thoughts on “Moments That Made Me – Sitting On The Kitchen Stool

  1. What a beautiful piece. I lost my father when I was 13 too and it’s had a tremendous impact upon my life. Like when you throw a stone into a puddle and the ripples move outwards – it always feels like the ripples are moving. As you get older or reach different milestones, you’re always reminded that the person is no longer around to witness them or be a part of them.

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