Wednesday, 14 February 2018

What Valentines Day Means To Me.

It's Valentines Day! A day of love that every company wants to exploit for financial profit. For most, it's a happy day filled with love, laughter, romance and surprises. For me, it's a day of mourning and remembrance.

When I was little, my best friend was my nanny. My mother's mum. I loved her so much and always wanted to visit her and spend time with her. My siblings and I all had individual nicknames given to us from my nanny. My older sister was called Spike because she always woke with wild hair sticking up like soft spikes. My older brother was called Clyde because when he learnt to walk, he walked like Clyde the orangutan from the film "Every Which Way But Loose". My little sister was called ET because she was Elizabeth Trouble; a nickname she hated! Then there was me. Nanny's clear favourite because she gave me TWO nicknames. The first was Spikelette because I too woke up with wild, spiky hair. The second was Pink Rabbit. I don't know why she called me that but she always told me that I was HER Pink Rabbit. I loved being her Pink Rabbit and I loved her.

Then she became ill. I was too young at the time to understand it but she was fighting cancer. She fought for years and suffered greatly. She was so worried she'd scare us kids with her bald head from the chemo that she bought a wig. One day we showed up earlier than expected and she hadn't had time to get her wig on and none of us even noticed. We just saw her. She had multiple operations and as a result she no longer had a belly button. A novelty I found highly amusing and told all my friends about. I didn't understand why her belly button was gone. We visited her in hospital a lot but even then I was too naive to understand why she was there. I didn't know she was dying.

Valentines Day 1999 came and I woke so
excited to visit nanny in hospital. I'd made her the most amazing Valentines Day card ever! I'd cut a heart out of paper and hand coloured the entire thing red with felt tip pen. I stuck glitter, sequins and feathers to it and in black felt tip pen, wrote her a little message telling her how much I loved her. I woke before any of my siblings and ran into the dining room to find my mum sitting in my dad's chair at the dining table, sobbing uncontrollably. I stood by her side and asked her what was wrong and she looked down at me and said the two words that to this day, still haunt me; "Nanny's dead." I immediately started crying and my mum scooped me up into her arms, cradled me like a baby and rocked me back and forth. My dad stood silently at the kitchen table, trying to be strong for my mum.

I don't know how long mum and I cuddled for crying but she'd calmed down by the time my siblings all got up. They never saw her in the pain that I did. The years following Valentines Day would come and go and I was too young to remember and understand the significance of the day. But as I entered my teenage years, Valentines Day came around and I learned how my nanny had died. She'd been laying in her hospital bed on her left side, which always caused her pain. The nurses came in and asked if she wanted to be rolled onto her right side which she usually preferred. She said yes and as the nurses rolled her over, she stopped breathing. They called my mum and the phone ringing is what woke me up. My mum had kept the card I never got to give nanny and upon seeing it again, the memory of that day came flooding back and so did the pain.

Ever since, I've never been able to celebrate Valentines Day the way everyone else does. The day comes around and I can see my mum sobbing at the table and I hear those two words over and over. The memory is so clear it's like it happened yesterday. This year will mark 19 years since her passing. I was 8 when she died. But whilst this is a sad day for me, it's a happy day for many others and I want to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day. I truly hope you all have lovely days filled with love and happy memories. Hold your loved ones tight and don't forget to tell them you love them!

Until next time,
Alli xo.

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