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.