The past couple of weeks have been the longest year of my life.

My mother died on the 29th from Covid. She had caught it at her final chemo appointment – the second time she had beat cancer. Because it was in Ireland, we have a very different set of rituals that we go through.

Instead of the process dragging on, and the proceedings needing to wait until after the death certificate is issued, the Irish tradition is to get it all over and done with and then process the grief after.

I have spent so much of the last two weeks just crying and trying not to be angry at small talk from strangers.

My mother was loved by a lot of people, to the point where she had met Princess Alexandra and separately been invited to Buckingham Palace for her work in the YMCA.

The Reditch Advertiser ran a piece on her passing where the former mayor spoke about her.

In many ways we were very alike – we were both very well versed in identifying the important work over the important work, we butted heads more than once over which of us was right about how to go about getting work done, or even just how to make food.

My mother was someone I aspire to be like, and her personality was very much distilled into my brothers and myself.

But for now, I am just grieving.

As much as I am angry at her for passing away before she got to see the woman I am going to become, and sad that I hadn’t been able to see her since 2019, I am also immensely proud of her and the work she did, and happy that she spent the last couple of years of her life surrounded by people she loved.

The question for me going forwards though is ‘What now?’, and I think that part of that decision tree has to be asking the question of ‘What would Jay do?’

I will get back to writing more when I have the ability, but for the next month, I think that I need to sit down and formulate a plan for 2022, both to ensure that I am not consumed with the grief and to make sure that I build on all the successes that made her so proud of me.