The popular series the Crown chronicles the story of Queen Elizabeth It begins when the Crown passes to her, too early. Her father should have lived many more years allowing her to enjoy her life with her young family. But that wasn’t to be, the Crown passed to her and she assumed the role of monarch earlier than she ever imagined.
In all families, there is an unspoken assumption that one day the eldest generation will pass on the duties and responsibilities of the family monarchy to their children. Usually, this happens when the eldest generation is no longer able to keep up with the demands of hosting the whole family. Or when the sandwich generation decides their children are too old to be ported around to every grandparent’s house and it’d just be easier to host. This natural progression of the family crown has been in action for many generations. But it doesn’t always go to plan. Sometimes the Crown is passed on too early. Such is the case with the Queen, and if you’ll allow me the parallel, with me.
Before she died I made a promise to my mother. That I would assume that matriarch Crown for my family and would provide the home and center that comes along with it. My mother spent years grooming me to become the host I would eventually need to become, neither of us ever imagined that I’d assume that role so early. I should have had more years to show up at her dining room table with hungry kids. Instead, that table is mine, and others are welcome at it.
Whenever there is a death in a family there is a natural shifting of roles, who takes on responsibility for what. Some things fall to the side, and that’s okay. Some things are born anew. Very few things inevitably stay the same, and that is okay too. Each family member has to find their new normal in the new family system. There will be conflict, there will be sadness, but eventually, there will be joy. This shifting of roles when there is a death too young can be rocky. We all knew that mom was going to die, we knew that there would have to be a change, we knew it would be rocky at times, we didn’t, however, appreciate truly how big a hole she was leaving until she was gone.
I think it would be the general consensus among those who know me that I’m a natural born matriarch. I like being in charge and I’m happy to have things go my way. It was not hard for me to promise my mother that I would wear the crown when she died. I naively thought I’d been wearing it anyway for years so this wouldn’t be a huge deal. It was. and It is. and it will continue to be a very big deal. I did not appreciate the true weight of the crown, physically and emotionally. I did not appreciate that wearing it so young while raising young children would generate another level of grief that I wasn’t at all prepared for. I feel a little like a puppet on strings whose puppet master is suddenly gone and I’m now a tangled mess trying to figure out how to make my limbs do as they should.
I know that I am now the matriarch, and I know that I can and want to be a good one. I also know that I was handed the crown to early, so there are going to be bumps in the road as I move ahead and figure out my new role. I also know that grief is not a destination with an endpoint, but rather a journey that you continuously walk as your life grows around you. My new life is growing around me, seasons are changing and school is starting. Life is chugging along despite my best efforts at the pause button. I’m wearing the crown, fashioned and made just for me and put on my head by my mother. It will be a beautiful thing when I learn to wear it properly, but for now, it sits a touch askew as I try to honour the woman who placed it there, while also refusing to believe its on my head at all. And while we wait for me to break in my new crown we all keep calm and carry on and know that one day the sun will shine and the dust will settle and all will be well again.