There’s a huge amount going on in my life right now. It’s all very exciting, and every day brings a new challenge, a new opportunity, and often a few things that make me – let’s be honest – squeal. Just a little. One of those things is the Superstars of STEM programme, which is an awesome opportunity to learn how to get the message of STEM and Computer Science Education out there into the world. I’m so thrilled to be a part of it, and I have a feeling it’s going to open a lot of doors. It’s incredible.
Even before the Superstars were announced, I was getting amazing opportunities to speak to scientists and create collaborations. My work has started to snowball in a way that means I get to pick and choose the best opportunities for my students, and I have to prioritise the things that will have the biggest impact. Professionally I seem to have stepped up a few levels in what I can achieve. It’s making me a little breathless. I’ve just hit the end of term 2, and right when I should be collapsed in a heap moaning about how exhausted I am, I find myself leaping around like the energiser bunny, making things happen.
Just as I was putting the finishing touched to a presentation this evening, I had a sudden urge to call Mum and tell her all about it. When my best friend died in a car accident I felt like that all the time – I would go to call her and then be hit afresh by her irrevocable absence. Eventually that settled, but with Mum it’s so weird. Because she’s not dead. Physically she’s actually in pretty good shape. But there’s no telling her things. There’s very little “her” to tell.
The other day she rang me (which I didn’t think she still knew how to do), and it took me 5 minutes to get her to understand my name. (Yes, you read that right. She called me, but she didn’t know who she had called.) When I used my family nickname she didn’t understand it at all. Once I spelt out my name she got it, but still didn’t know I was her daughter.
On the surface, we had a perfectly sensible chat. She told me she was thinking of retiring.
(She hasn’t had paid work in over 30 years)
She told me she hadn’t told her family yet.
(what does that make me?)
She told me she was thinking of travelling abroad.
(She gets lost 2 blocks from home)
We’ve lost her.
But she’s right here.
She looks like my mum.
She even sounds like my mum.
She’s right here.
But she’s gone.
That sharp pang of grief. The coming to grips with losing a loved one. It’s a dreadful thing. I know it too well.
But this? This everlasting grievous twilight?
This is the sharp pang of grief renewed every time I see her.
This is a new loss every day.
This has no end in sight. No relief. No closure.
Oh, I know they will come. But who knows when? There could be ten more years of this. Of having her right here. And losing her over and over.
So I can’t tell her. I can’t hope that she might be proud of me. She was sad when I left academia and became a teacher. She thought it was a step down. Maybe now she could see how far I’ve come. If she could still see anything at all.
Instead we share this everlasting grievous twilight. And I try to turn my face towards the sun.