Today is December 17th, 2017. Eight years since my mum died. And while her absence is particularly noticeable on days like today, life has this weird habit of marching on.

2009 started out innocently enough, but by the end of that year I was a totally different person. Most of my friends consider me organised and planned. But 2009 was anything but that.

I kicked off the year by putting the apartment I loved onto the market, so I could buy something bigger and fulfill my dream of having a dog. The economy wasn’t great and I didn’t expect to sell, so it was quite a shock to have a sold sticker on the board within a week of going onto the market.

Win!

Ok, so let’s buy a new home. I found a gorgeous little unit, and got mum’s take on it. She loved it. The auction day came round, and I vividly remember mum watching carefully as the auction unfolded. I lost count of the number of bids I made after 12 – but finally I nailed it. After the hammer had fallen, I signed the documents, came home and fell into mum’s arms. She was absolutely elated – doing her little signature happy dance proclaiming “Oh my god you did it!”. Neither of us had bid at an auction before, and both of us had thought it was well outside my price range.

Another win!

That is, to this day, one of the happiest memories I have of mum.

But it was at this point that life started going pear shaped.

Remember the great sale of my apartment? The buyer would have his finance rejected, and then go missing on an extended holiday overseas. Wouldn’t normally be an issue but for the fact I’d bought elsewhere. As settlement grew closer, I did what I could to juggle finances and make sure I didn’t default on my new place. It finally happened. I settled. But not without millions of phone calls and a lot of anxiety.

Then came my health. I loved running and regularly did triathlons. Until I started getting recurrent stress fractures in both feet. I ended up spending nearly 4 months in moon boots, hobbling around on crutches and learning just how unfriendly our city was from an accessibility perspective.

And then there was my work. I was over it. I loved the people I worked with, but yearned for something different. It was late August when I applied for an amazing job. I interviewed with them once, twice then three times. I should have known when one of the key decision makers didn’t bother showing up for my third interview that I was off the mark.

But I was optimistic and hopeful – buoyed by positive feedback from the lovely HR people.

So I was crushed when I was told I’d “come second”. You know what, in job hunting, there is no “second”. You didn’t get the job, end of story. And it hurt.

But that hurt was nothing compared to the news that arrived 2 days later.

Mum hadn’t been well. She’d had “tummy trouble”. It was cancer. Inoperable. And not much time left.

Hindsight is an amazing thing. Thank goodness I didn’t get that other job. I was reminded in that time why I was lucky to be with my current employer – the support from my colleagues, my managers and the leaders was extraordinary. And so I remained for another eight years.

Mum’s last few months were a total blur. She at least met the dog I always wanted to get – a gorgeous cavoodle called Denver.

Mum died on this day on December 17th. It was just over 3 months from when she’d been diagnosed.

Eight years on and much has changed. I’m getting older, learning more and appreciating all her little quirks – particularly as I embark on my own journey as a mum.

Her leaving changed my outlook on so many things because frankly, you’ve got no idea when it’s all going to end.

She was a gifted writer, but a frustrated one at that. There were books in her head that were never published. Articles and ideas that got lost in the mundane day to day life. Which is sad because in this day and age, it would’ve been so easy for mum to share her talent.

I’d been toying for nearly 18 months with the idea of creating a blog to help small businesses better understand their customers, because I honestly believe it makes a difference. But I kept putting it off. Life was too busy. I’d fail. No-one would visit the site.

Then it dawned on me. I was doing exactly what mum did.

So I launched the Research Toolkit 3 months ago, on the anniversary of her diagnosis. And since then, there’s been hundreds of visitors, reading and downloading free content to help grow their understanding of customers. I don’t have a lot of spare time these days, but the little spare time I do have is spent building up what I hope is becoming a valuable go-to resource for small businesses keen to do their own research.

And if what I’ve written helps just one small business grow and achieve more, then that’s something I’ve no doubt would have mum doing her signature happy dance.

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