It was my mum’s birthday yesterday. That’s my dead mum, and the first birthday to go by after her death. Had she been alive she’d have turned 72 and I’d have called her to wish her a good one, bought her a present, and at some point we’d have all gone out for lunch or dinner to celebrate. It was on my mind in the days leading up to it, but even if by chance I had forgotten then it the repeated warnings from my calendar alarms would have reminded me.

I woke up with it then yesterday. I didn’t feel sad. I knew she wasn’t around. I wished she was still here, but have come to accept that she is not. I went about my business then normally, with the only concession being the somewhat forlorn comment I posted to my Facebook status: Happy birthday mum. Like many days I felt a kind of muted melancholy.

Midway through the morning I got a call from Cheeseboy. He told me that the mother of a mutual friend had passed away on the weekend. I’d heard the week before that she was in a coma. A sudden and unexpected stroke, the coma, and now death without waking. It was sobering news in many ways, not least because I knew what it felt like to lose a mother.

I will go to the funeral on Thursday. We look after and support each other in these moments of grief. I know when mum died I was gratified to see my friends in the audience at the church. I feel so much for this friend, can appreciate the utter shock at not only losing a mother, but in such an abrupt and violent fashion. Though I didn’t know her well I remember her as a vibrant and lively woman, a good person, and the last person – as they say – you’d expect something like this to happen to. They are a good family and it’s a occasion of great sadness for them.

I move on. I’m still passing through the transitional phases of grief. I’m becoming accustomed to my mother’s absence. Now it is time for me to lend support to others. It’s more than returning the favour, it’s recognition that we are all in this together. We knit together because it is the right thing to do, and because we choose to. Times like this we remember that we are all of the common weal.