Way back in the mists of time, when my dad died from MS complications, aged 35, I knew I would always have my mum.
Now she is seriously ill in hospital, and has been for four months.
There’s always that hope, isn’t there, that our mums will shrug any illness off, put the kettle on and give us our full attention.
They’ll bustle around the kitchen, nurturing plant cuttings, swapping local gossip and making us feel like we are the most important person in the world.
Not any more.
For me, it really hit home yesterday. I had been at a wonderful MS Society Council meeting (as a fully-fledged member!), and as soon as the train pulled into the station, I thought, ‘ah, I’ll give mum a call, let her know I’m home safe’. I felt safe just thinking it.
Except I can’t. She’s too ill to really understand.
She knows I’ve been away and now she knows I got back safely but the nuances remain left unsaid. I am floundering. My safety net, that generation above me, has disappeared. It’s me at the top of the tree.
You’d think, that after four months, I would be used to it. Not a bit. It still stuns me every single day. There have been brief glimmers of hope but they have been cruelly dashed.
Next week, I’m off to London, as a finalist for an MS Society award. I’m wholly unprepared – a recycled outfit, untrimmed hair, red face and snagged nails. I’m a mess. It’s been four months of non-stop angst.
I’m absurdly worried that I won’t be wearing a dress – but after my attempts, which have come to nothing, I’m resigned to my black trousers and top. It will be a miracle just to attend the ceremony.
However, in the midst of all the gloom, all the decisions, drama, horror, it meant the world to get away for 24 hours and be amongst an inspiring group of people who just understand.
Perhaps I do feel safe: just in some different, new form.