It?s Mother?s Day and I haven?t seen you in three months. You?re currently five hundred miles away from me and this year will be the fourth in a row where I can?t kiss your cheeks, or buy you flowers, or take you breakfast in the morning; a cluttered tray of overly-enthusiastic jam on toast, spilt coffee and a sticky card sealed with love.
This year I feel different, because last year I could have lost you. One uploaded photograph along with the rest of them on my timeline doesn?t do the strongest woman I am honoured to know any justice.
When you told me that you had breast cancer, the first thing that you said to me was that you didn?t want me to worry, and I don?t think I?ll ever forget that. A mother?s love is so selfless, so pure and unconditional, that even in what was one of the scariest moments of your life, you thought of me and how I would process this disease that had just invaded your body.
But I don?t want to talk about all that now. We talk about it enough, and I see in your voice and your strength that slowly, your recovery is starting to show.
I want to talk about you.
I want to write about you, whilst you?re most likely pottering around the house with Dad as I type, I?m sat a country and a sea away from you. I can imagine your scent, soapy and fruity, your smile, your hands, the curls in your hair, the way you sit and fold your legs and how you bring your coffee up to your lips (quite a bit of milk, hot, no sugar). I think about how I will never be able to do anything to repay you for everything you have ever done for me. I will never be able to show to you how much I love you and it frustrates me, but believe me that I do. From carrying me in your body to bringing me into this world, you have given me everything you have, from the food on your plate to the capacity in your ears to listen.
I can?t imagine how hard being a mother is, especially being a woman like you, so hard working, clever, creative, innovative, focused, progress-driven.
As I had barely left your womb, you were back in the office. Even if it meant that you would sit and sob in your company car, the one that they took off you when you were on maternity leave, because your breasts were swollen and you wanted to be with your new baby but you couldn?t because you had to go back to work. I see that now, and I don?t know what to say to you, other than you are simply incredible.
I can?t imagine my life without you, but you can imagine yours without me, because you saw a world for thirty-four years that didn?t have me in it, and I just want you to know how in awe I am of you. Every second I have known you, you have thought of me, you have put me first.
Growing up, my memory is filled with fields and flowers, laughter, happiness, you. You found yourself responsible for a little girl with a mind of her own, and you allowed me to grow, guiding me but never forcing me into anything that I didn?t want to do, giving me the choice and loving me so much you celebrated anything that I celebrated. You navigated the choppy seas of my teenage years as best as you could, making me see the importance of self-discipline but also giving me space to breathe, the freedom to make mistakes, and the stability of being there when things went wrong. You are forever there at the end of the phone, a safe space, the only palm I want pressed against my face when someone makes me cry.
You see mum, I?ve always loved you, but it?s only when I?m far away from you, and as I move on in my life away from you, into the world made for adults and not children, I see everything you do, have done, and will continue to do for me, until the world separates us only in physical terms, and I realise more than ever how important you are to me.
I don?t want to say that I can?t survive without you (although it?s true), because you have taught me so much about how to be independent. You?ve taught me how to be strong, how to seize the obstacles in front of me head on, and to never cower when afraid or lost. You have taught me how to love myself, how to stand up for myself, how to move on from things that hurt me, how to forgive others, how to love others, and never feel hatred or anger towards anyone. Such important lessons that take people lifetimes to understand, your guidance and wisdom has allowed me to explore these notions, and even when I?ve not fully understood, you?ve been there, ready to help me process and digest.
You support me, love me, and understand me better than anyone else in the world. You see my weaknesses, my flaws, my strengths, my being, and you accept me for who I am, you support everything I do, and wish only that I am happy and healthy.
You put me first all the time, and I think when I see you next, we need to talk about how you need now to start putting yourself first, and stop worrying so much about us and how we are and start thinking about you and how you are.
I will never be able to repay you for the beautiful life you have given me, but as we move into the next chapter of our lives together, mother and daughter, I can only promise to try and rival the love you have provided so selflessly for me.
Mum, I love you very much, and I miss you every day of my life.