At work yesterday I encountered somebody who looked vaguely familiar. I looked at her for a minute, then I asked “Do we know each other – have we met before?”
She thought for a minute, then she replied by asking “Are you Leah’s mum?” I smiled and said “Yes I am.” There was no trace of embarrassment on her part and no tears or display of emotion on mine. We didn’t even go on to discuss Leah, we identified a situation (non illness related) in which our paths had crossed before, then we talked about other work related matters.
However, for me it was a very special moment and my heart was warmed. This woman gave me that opportunity – so rare nowadays – to say out loud “Yes, I’m Leah’s mum”, and it meant so much.
When I phone the High School for some reason, or go to Parent Teacher meetings, I regularly introduce myself as “Miriam’s mum“; at the Grammar School I introduce myself as “Simon’s mum” and when I happen across former school friends of my eldest, I become “Rachel’s mum“. Sadly I rarely have opportunities to identify myself as “Leah’s mum” anymore.
Nine months after Leah died, shortly after I had returned to work in the Health Service, I was being introduced to a work colleague whom I hadn’t met before. The colleague who was introducing me momentarily forgot my name and inadvertently introduced me with the words “This is Leah’s mummy.” The person I was being introduced to immediately showed recognition and greeted me warmly. Of course, I then gave her my name as well. There was no evidence of awkwardness on anyone’s part and for me it was another very special moment.
Even though Leah is no longer on this earth, I will always be her mummy.