Last night I dreamed I was on a battlefield. As bodies flew and bones cracked around me, I felt a hand touch my leg and it was my mum. She reached out to me and all my fear disappeared. I held her hand and we told each other "I love you" and she kissed me. I had just enough time to say "thank you" before she was gone, and I was still holding her hand when I felt the end come.
I woke up - obviously really bloody confused - but also crying. Because I realised that "thank you" was everything.
I'm aware that a battlefield scenario is fairly extreme, but I don't think it takes a therapist to figure out the symbolism, given the state of the world. Covid-19 has seen tens of thousands die and the whole world has been impacted. We spent the majority of the past month in total lockdown, trying to keep each other safe.
Just prior to the outbreak, I went through my own type of personal hell. As a result, I left my job, my home, my city - my whole life that I'd spent 30 years building for myself - and I came home to live with my mum, like I vowed I never would.
I vowed I wouldn't because that's the fear society and media heaps upon us our lives: That if you're living at home in your 30s, you're a failure and deadbeat. I spent a lifetime striving for "success", to attain a particular title or amass enough praise or fund a certain type of lifestyle. Then I got it all and realised none of it mattered. What did matter was health and family and for many, especially for us Maori and Pacific Islanders, the two inexorably go hand in hand.
And so I came to embrace the fact that mum is my safe place. I've always known it, but in my wildly misled run through the rat race I fought to make it untrue because I was an #independentwoman, goddamnit.
It's funny though because I've never truly been independent. I've been incredibly fortunate to always have my family backing me, whether they were cheerleading me through school, bailing me out financially during uni (and by uni, I mean my whole life) or letting me move home soon after my 30th birthday.
My mum, especially, is the person I call for everything. Good news, bad news, in the depths of depression with nothing to say, to share a story no one else would find funny but leaves us breathless. She's my best friend and my protector. Hers is the hand I reach for when the world is imploding.
I myself have no desire to be a mother. Partly because I know the pressure I'd place on myself to be like my mum would quickly unravel me. But mostly I just know I wouldn't be very good at it; I'm too selfish and stubborn and I lose patience pretty quickly. This past year I've watched my sister become a mother for the first time and that pretty much cemented how much that job is not a job for me. The sleepless nights, your body fighting against you, the anxiety about whether you're doing everything wrong, how your baby's incessant crying feels like a personal attack, the utter terror when they get sick or have an accident, swimming in vomit and poop.
And all this is before they even start walking, talking, learning things they shouldn't know, leaving the house without you and generally just growing up.
Suzanne Paul shows Kiwis 'How To Dinner' in new web series
Very good dogs don't necessarily make very good co-workers
I see everything my sister does for my nephew and how he has changed her and it is magical. That shows me how much my mum did for us, and then I see what she continues to do and I can't imagine a sufficient way to ever repay her.
I see Jacinda Ardern, raising a baby while leading the nation through our first mass shooting, a volcanic disaster and a global pandemic.
I see my friends raising children, maintaining marriages and still working and frankly, I'm tired enough after just working.
When I came home my mum was going through a lot of her own stuff. But she shouldered my stuff without hesitation because that, it seems, is just what mums do. I know Mother's Day can be super-hard for those who have lost their mothers or who don't have relationships with them anymore. I know because that's Father's Day for me.
So here's to the mothers who give us everything, the mothers who loved us for as long as they could, the ones who watch over us, the fathers who took on motherhood for their kids, the mothers who treat others' kids as if they were their own and the friends who give us safe places away from home.
These are trying times on both a personal and a global scale and I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want to wait to be on a metaphorical battlefield before I tell my mum how I feel, so I'm saying thank you now, Mum. For absolutely everything.
I hope I'm still holding your hand at the end.