A month from now, it’ll be 16 years since my mum died.

16 whole years of her not being around. I can’t even remember what it was like to have a mum. She was in my life for nearly the same time as she hasn’t been.

I had to figure a lot of stuff out on my own after she’d died. You know, this doing life stuff. She wasn’t there to ask.

I get lost in ideas and thoughts about what it would be like to still have a mum. I can be doing something as simple as crossing the street or sitting in a restaurant, and suddenly, I find myself thinking about her. The all too familiar wave of keening, of missing, of loneliness hits hard. Right where it hurts. Sometimes so much that I want to double over.

I spent a lot of my twenties feeling very alone.

I still do sometimes.

I can be stood in a room full of people and feel like there’s something missing.

She is the one who is missing.

Missing out on a lot of things.

I miss her.

I still grieve. For her. For what could have been.

I’m sometimes embarrassed to still grieve, you know.

I worry that people think I should be over it. I worry that people will see me upset and think, “It’s been 16 years, Liz, for fucks sake!”

But then I remind myself that it’s ok to cry and feel sad and mope around for the day.

I remind myself to let go. It’s good to let go. It’s necessary to let go. Of thinking you have to have it together all the time. Of the friendship that just doesn’t feel good anymore. Of the idea that at some point in the not so near future, everything will be perfect and that’s when you’ll start (writing the book, the exercising, the business). Of having fucked up big time somewhere in your past (we all have). Of having to be a certain weight or look a certain way before you can be happy. Of feeling guilty all the time about things you could have done or should have done or would have done. Of not being (good/funny/attractive/educated/sporty/disciplined) enough. Of having to be the best at everything (you don’t). Of not being very good at dancing (no-one cares, they’re too busy worrying they’re not very good at dancing). Of wanting everyone to like you (they won’t). Of the idea of learning the violin (because secretly, you’d like to riff on a guitar). Of having to be right all the time. Of feeling that you’ve done wrong all the time. Of not getting too close (get close). Of thinking you should be the life and soul of the party, when really, you’d prefer to cosy up in bed with your favourite book. Of thinking you have to travel, because that’s what all the self-help books say you should do to ‘find yourself’, when really, you like being at home. Of keeping it all in when it would be better for you to just let it all out (this goes for grief, painful emotions, things you hold back from saying and farts).

When you give yourself permission to let go, even just a little, you make room in your life for other things.

Things that feel less heavy.

Things that feel less stifling.

Things that feel more free.

And most importantly of all,

Things that make you more YOU.