Dear Mum

Dear Mum,

Here we are again at another crossroad in both of our lives, you about to become a grandmother for the first time and me? Well who knows what road I will take, least of all me, but really as my mother it should not matter to you, as long as it's the happy route. I wonder if you realise how much I remember about you way back when I was a small child and you were a single mother, working two jobs to put food on the table for the three of us kids. I remember being four, waking up and tiptoeing to the living room, unaware of your presence there, I could hear voices there, and I peered through the crack in the doorway at you and auntie talking. She was handing you tissues, and Dad was gone. I didnt understand back then what the whole big deal was, because he used to hit us so much, and besides it was snowing that day, I couldnt understand your tears.

I remember you showing us the stick which dad used to beat us with and letting us break it and throw it away, and again not understanding your tears at our joy. I admired you more than anyone then. The way you would drop anything and everything to kiss a skinned knee or fix a smashed doll's face for me. And I remember when that stopped. Your relationships were always the same, fast and furious, and much more important than a skinned knee. You would go away with some man or another and I wouldnt see you for days, thats when nan would come and get us and I would ask her questions about where you were and she would always tell me about how when she was a girl families were often apart because of the war, and that sometimes they came back, and sometimes, like her brother, they didnt, but that they always love us all the same. I didnt get it. Then the guy would leave and you would close your bedroom door and go to sleep, and I would draw you pictures to make you smile untill I figured out that if I stole lemons from the neighbours tree for your gin was what made you happier. I remember standing in front of the mirror with you, watching you dress, and hearing you comment on all of the parts of you you hated, and then pointing them out on me too, and I hated them on myself just like you. I wonder if you knew back then that you were moulding a little human being into something that I should never have had to be at such a young age. I viewed my body as a sexual object that I loathed by the age of 8, not helped by the abuse I was getting at Dads house. Then brother and sister moved to Dads for good, and it was just you and I and you said it was because I was such a parasite, do you remember that? I do, and I believed you, for years, that I was worthless.

Thinking of those days puts a bitterness in my mouth that I can't quite describe. Your house was the lesser of two evils. I grieve the loss of you each and everyday, and although I know you can't go back in time and fix what we have been through you should know that i forgive you Mum. You gave me life and lessons which I would not exchange, because it made me a stronger woman than you. I wish you could see who I am now, really see. I wish you knew how my heart aches with love for you but more than that I wish i knew that yours did the same for me. You are beautiful mum, but not in the same way as me, because my beauty is carried on the inside and I don't give it out to everyone, like you did.

I know you loved me, at least at some point, and I don't doubt that much of what happened was unintentional on your part, but no matter how much love you had for me, you would have been more of a mother if you only had some love for yourself.

I have to say goodbye now. I hope before our hearts and flesh depart this crazy place I can admire you once again.

I love you Mum,

Em