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Mothers Apart From Their Children


My dearest Lucas, I really, really miss you. I miss seeing you take something to pieces, or get enthusiastic about a dog you've seen that you like or talk me into having one or two dogs home "to get them socialised, Mum.". I miss talking to you, but you didn't always feel like talking to me. Now you're 23, and I hope you're in a job you really enjoy because you have so much to give. Whatever you're doing, you'll be enthusiastic, hard working and loyal, (but probably impatient if others don't have your high standards or do things the way you think they should be done - just like your brother!)

Your father told me I wasn't allowed to take anything with me when I left but I sneaked out my Memories Envelope that had in it a birthday card you'd made for me when you were 13. And Granddad later gave me a letter you wrote him, partly in Morse code, when you were 15 years old (short extract below). With your talent for making friends, and keeping them, I know they will have comforted you when your brother died three years ago. You were the bravest person I know to identify his body. How many people could do that at the age of 20? I admire you more than words can say, but then I always did. Your integrity and genuineness shine like a beacon.

I love you, I miss you very much.

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Dear Alice

I am writing this while listening to “Uptown Girl” on the radio. So many memories of you are triggered by music. This one was one of your earliest favourites.  And then there was Boy George with “Karma Camellia” -  is that the right spelling? Kylie  Minogue and Michael Jackson were also favourites. I can’t hear their songs without seeing you dancing along.

It’s very easy to let the sad recollections be foremost but I have so many happy ones so let’s go through a few now.

While you were still a baby, we spent a month in Pretoria. You and I would go to the local park each morning and you loved to walk around while holding on to my hands. My back should have ached but it was too much fun for me to notice.

I worked throughout your childhood so rarely had daytime playtime with you. Bedtime story time was especially precious to me. And for you, too, I think because you were always asking for more stories. I would hardly ever stick to the limit because I didn’t want it to end either. No matter how many stories, you always wanted more. It was no good trying to skip passages - you knew them off by heart!  When you started school, there were the school plays and the surprise I had one Christmas when you sang solo. That was magical.

As you got older, the special times changed. I noticed you growing into a young woman. You found yourself a Saturday job. Unlike so many of your gene ration, you didn’t ask Mum or Dad to fix it for you. I was so proud of you. Then, the work experience fortnight and you came home muttering about people who spent all the time talking and not pulling their weight. You were getting such an insight into adulthood.

I was proud of your exams results. But it was a non-school achievement which was very special -- the year you were chosen as cadet of the year at the helicopter club.

We had so few times together but I wanted you to know just how many happy memories I have and how proud I have felt. I hope you, too, can remember those times and that you never forget how much I love you.

Love from Mum


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My dearest Edward, You were 17 in May, it's now the school holidays, and you're awaiting the results of your AS levels this week. I'll not know how you get on - as with your GCSEs, the school won't tell me the results, believing it to be your private business. It doesn't matter, I'll be with you in thoughts, as I have been every day for five years, and wishing you the best in the future, whatever you do and wherever you go.

It would be so easy to turn this into a let's-look-back-at-the-past, or wander-down-memory-lane kind of letter. I hate that - it turns nostalgia into a kind of addiction or illness. I don't want either of us to become stuck in a time warp, and not move forward.

Whatever decisions I took five years ago, I paid the price and took the consequences, trying to make the best of them. Some things, like the angry, hostile enmity of your father, and the death of your 22-year old brother three years ago, could not have been foreseen. But it happened, we all grieved deeply, but we must move our suffering forward and not wallow in bitterness. Yes, the loss of contact with my four children, the death of one of them, and your losing me, your mother, has changed all of us forever, but it should not submerge us in a lifetime of the deepest agony. Perhaps you'll say, "It won't. I've forgotten you."

I started this letter just by sitting down in front of the typewriter and just writing whatever came into my head, trying to think, as I have done so many, many times, what I would say to you if you and I were in the same room together, sitting on the sofa, holding hands. Many times I've wanted to pick up the telephone and speak to you. I did, the day after your brother's death, but you slammed the phone down. I don't blame you. We were all too hurt to think clearly, or to be generous with each other. But you were only 14 years old, you were hurting so badly, and I wanted desperately to offer comfort to you. I must have done the reverse.

You were a wonderful brother and son - radiantly warm-hearted, generous, chivalrous, openly lovable, having the sweetest of smiles that disappeared into dimples so gorgeous that people wanted to eat you. I have countless stories in my head about your childhood, a childhood that stopped for me when you were 12 years old and I left, casting long shadows for you on the remainder of your childhood and adolescence. I want to say, Edward, that my one wish is that you are healing, little by little, day by day, with the loving help of your sister, brother and father.

I used to write letters in a journal to you after I left, needing to prove to someone one day how much you meant to me. But the feelings expressed were too agonisingly sad, far too melancholy for someone to read in, perhaps, twenty years, so I stopped, soon after your brother died. Then I began again. The last entry is your 15th birthday, two years ago, but then I locked that journal away so I can move on.

Now I try hard to re-build my image of you. You're a young man, probably very good looking with a girlfriend perhaps. You may have a provisional driving licence, a mobile phone, different hobbies and sporting interests to the ones I remembered you having at 12 years old. Perhaps you have a part-time job, and special ambitions for a future career. It would be wonderful getting to know you again, but I don't think badly of you if you don't want to know me. It would mean setting aside feelings of anger, and perhaps resurrect long-faded pain. Why go through the excruciating process again and upset our new lives? Never go back.

We've all paid heavily for my leaving your father five years ago. But I must stress one thing over and over again, Edward, even if you forget everything else - I did not leave you. I did not leave you, I left my marriage with your father. Parents are forever. If you want to see me, and ask me, face-to-face, about anything, I will always be here to answer truthfully. My love for you will never fade. Never. I wish you so much joy in the future, and hope you will find contentment in the future with someone whom you love, respect and admire. I love you.


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To my darling daughter

I still love and miss you dearly sweetheart..but lately I have missed you even more than usual, and I therefore felt compelled to express that in someway. I know that you may never read this either but it may ease my heartache.

I haven't seen you since you were a baby and you are now a fantastic and lively four year old. It is so painful to think of all the many milestones that have happened for you during our time apart. There have been so many wonderful and happy moments that I have missed, and times that I can never ever have back again.

I am so very, very sorry for the reasons that we are living apart, I have really let you down darling. I know that if I had have been able to have expressed myself in a better way back then, then maybe things could well have turned out so differently. I live with my feelings of guilt and regret every day. I can only hope thatwhen you are older you will be able to find it within yourself to forgive me.

I am so truly proud to be your mommy. I know that I am so blessed to have such an amazing, beautiful and bright little girl as a daughter! I really enjoy our telephone conversations, and I am able to hear how your little personality is developing. You have a fantastic sense of humour, and I cherish what little time together over the phone that we have. I do hope that you feel my love for you. You are with me every moment, and I hope that you know that even though Iam not able do see you,I carry you in my heart always. It comforts me knowing just how well your daddy is taking such good care of you. He is so devoted and dedicated to you, and for that I will be forever grateful to him. You are part of a wonderful family, and they alllove you dearly. I would give absolutely anything to have my little family back again though, and there is nothing in the world that I want more than to be back where I belong with you. More importantly darling you deserve a mommy,your mommy- who is now better, and who is more than capable now to love and care for you. To be reunited with you really would be all my dreams come true, butI know that we would also have so muchgoing against us too.

Finally, I will say that I have learnt so painfully just how very precious life is. Whilst I am grateful that I have now returned to good health, I also hope and often pray that I am given another chance to be your mommy. With lots of Love, hugs and kisses

From your mommy x

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