Downton Abbey was excellent as usual last night, I typed. It’s up for so many nominations at the Emmys.
I was sending a message to my mum, Eileen. Like I do every day.
I tell her all about the latest TV programmes, the weather, my errands… But I know I’ll never get a reply.
My mum died in January 2011. The letters to her make me feel like we’re still connected though.
I’m thinking of those delicious cakes we ate in Norfolk, I wrote another time. Mum and my dad, James, often took us on family holidays to Salthouse on the Norfolk Coast.
My mind wandered back to that happy time when I was 8. Mum would press some money into my hand and tell me to get the ice creams.
Vanilla for her, chocolate for Dad. I’d charge along the sand giggling as my older sister, Cathy, tried to catch me up.
As a teen, Mum would wipe my tears when I cried over the latest boy who’d broken my heart.
Then, aged 13, I started to suffer from panic attacks. One night, I was in the kitchen when my heart started beating rapidly.
Mum told me to keep calm and imagine I was back on the beach in Norfolk, breathing in the sea air.
Listening to her soothing voice, I instantly felt better. While Cathy left home at 17 and got married, I stayed with Mum and Dad.
Mum and I would take our dog Saffy for long walks in the park, and chat about our days. In 2005 she suffered a stroke and was put on medication.
But she remained upbeat, refused to let it slow her down. Then, one day, Mum headed to the chemist to pick up her repeat prescription.
Later the phone rang and when Dad answered his face went ghostly white. Mum had collapsed.
She was taken to hospital and I rushed onto the ward to find her in a bed, hooked up to a drip.
It was another stroke. Holding her hand, I told her I was there, like she always was for me.
But she couldn’t hear my words. By the time Cathy arrived, Mum was only being kept alive by machines.
A doctor broke the news that it was unlikely she’d ever recover. The best thing was to let her slip away naturally.
Mum was always the one who had cared for us, not the other way round. We knew she’d have wanted us to let her go.
The machines were unplugged and Mum’s life slowly ebbed away while we took it in turns to sit with her.
She passed away, aged 78. I broke down in tears, clung desperately to Dad.
I didn’t know what I’d do without her. The next few days passed in a blur as we arranged the funeral.
Without Mum, I walked around like a little lost child. Consumed by grief, I struggled to cope.
Then, somehow I came across an online memorial site. People could leave messages to loved ones who’d passed away.
Missing you so much, Mum. Love you, I typed. As I tapped in the words, I found myself smiling as I thought of her.
Wonderful memories came flooding back. Those weekends when we were kids and Mum would bake while she sang along to Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ on the radio.
Cathy and I would watch cartoons while the sweet smell of bread and butter pudding wafted from the kitchen.
I realised writing to her was a way of preserving memories like that. A direct line to heaven.
The next day, I went back onto the website. We’re all lost without you, I typed. But we’re trying to cope. Soon, I was logging on every night, writing letters to Mum.
It felt so good to be able to talk to her again. A month later, I noticed Mum’s page had been viewed 2,000 times.
I realised her letters weren’t just helping me, they were helping others who’d lost someone special too.
Afterwards, I carried on writing, telling Mum just about everything – from the Olympics opening ceremony to my trip to the opticians for some new glasses.
With every message I posted, the number of followers kept increasing. Now, I’ve posted about 2,000 messages on the memorial page. And my letters have been read by more than 19,000 people!
The pain of losing Mum will never go away, so I keep up the postings as a tribute to her. It’s my way of showing the rest of world how special she was.
To view Claire's letters, visit aanounce.jpress.co.uk and search for Eileen Florence Pedder