A friend or mine once said to me that you only really grow up when you lose a parent. I guess that makes me a grown-up then, because my mother died just over a week ago.
It's interesting, seeing the social conventions of reaction to a death. My mother's passing was very peaceful,instead of succumbing to the leukaemia she caught an infection which weakened her heart. She faded away over a couple of days, ready for her end and not in pain. Her fears of lingering on or losing her mind were not realised.
I almost feel guilty for not being consumed by grief, because that's how everyone seems to expect me to be. I'm not that way because of the manner of her passing, prepared for it and at the end of a long and happy life. I grieved while my mother was still alive, as I came to terms with news of her illness.
So life goes on. Every now and then - as when I discovered "custard" and "crust" have the same etymology - I think of something I should tell her because it would interest her, then realise I can't. Which is sad, but not unbearably so.
My sisters - one too similar to our mum not to chafe with her and the other coming back from a long feud - have had very different reactions from mine. Had they made their peace with her perhaps things might have been different, but as it is I think it'll be a while before they put their feelings to bed. It's my dad I'm worried about, he's of the generation that was taught to bottle everything up. Fortunately I'm the one who lives locally so I'll be spending a lot more time at home from now on. As Christmas approaches I've been making some of the seasonal goodies. I don't want my dad to be reminded of my mum through missing her mince pies.
My mother's illness has taken up all my time since going full-time. I've not changed my name on a load of things I should have, but it hasn't really mattered. I've been fortunate in that my day-to-day existence hasn't held any transition-related problems..
On Saturday I went to the pub with a group who knew me as the scruffy bloke for over a decade. Much rubbish was talked about motorcycles, and we encountered a genuine Rock Superstar in person - it's his local.
The motorcyclists were as they always are. A couple of raised eyebrows from the two I hadn't been able to tell, but otherwise an unremarkable gathering. One or two locals giving me an extra glance, but not unexpected and also not beyond the mildly curious.
So yes, a new kind of normality for me. Getting on with it, and without my mum with whom to talk about it. Grown up.