Its supposed to be a myth isn’t it, the idea that if you were deprived of one of your senses the others would magically compensate. I don’t think you could suddenly wake up one day blind but with really great hearing, but I suspect that if you were put in a position where you lost something key, by necessity and by a lot of hard work, your other senses would start to improve, to compensate the best they can for the absence.
And I’ve been wondering whether family is like that too. This last Mother’s Day was the fourth as a mother without my mother, that’s double the mother’s days we ever shared, and yet it still feels a little lopsided. I’m not used to being celebrated without doing some celebrating in return (sharing a birthday with your husband will do that for you), and while my Mother’s Day this year was truly lovely, full of family and really good food, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me wonder what life would have looked like with Mum still around.
There is, and probably always will be, a bit of a gap. And yet, I think that between my Dad and my sister and I perhaps we’re being those extra senses, trying to catch up and make good.
My sister had a tough couple of weeks recently and in all the phone calls and random emoji text messages sent to make her smile I realised how strong my maternal instinct is towards her. I wanted to magic it all better, to take away the hurt and the tears, to protect my baby sister just as I would do anything to keep my children happy and healthy and safe.
And I think perhaps she feels the same way to me; when I was under pressure in January, and the whole family was feeling the impact of my long hours, a little parcel arrived in our post; a foil baking tray filled with Millionaire’s Shortbread, H’s absolute all time favourite cake. It was delicious and amazing and so exactly what we needed, and exactly the sort of thing Mum would have done (she had a cake for all occasions).
When we were teenagers we sort of existed in separate orbits; we were both fond of each other but we had our own lives and our own friends and I never felt the need to be uber protective of her – mostly because she wouldn’t have thanked me, and she can more than stand up for herself!
But now, well perhaps it’s just what happens in sisterhood; I think we’d have grown close anyway as we both became wives and mothers and our lives got a lot more similar, but to describe our relationship as purely awesome sisterhood (and she is an awesome sister, the cake parcels alone will tell you that!) seems somehow not quite to tell the whole story.
We are sisters to each other and we stand in the gap. Neither of us can ever be quite what our Mum was to us, but we’re giving it our very best shot to make sure that we’re covering for her.