Mirror ★★★★★

Dear Mum,

I never said "I love you" enough. I always meant to, but I never knew how to express my emotions. As a child I didn't understand, as an adult I don't have the humility to admit my many emotional failings. With dad being how he is, and me being me, I wonder if you ever heard it enough. But know this now, I love you. You are the reason for my every success.

As a child I didn't like to hug you. I didn't like contact, I didn't like closeness. Family to me always seemed arbitrary. But having you as my mother meant so much to me. Every single time I had an epileptic seizure, you found me and stayed with me all night. When I was at my lowest points, my most suicidal, you talked me into the help I needed. You've helped me through everything. On the day I arrived at university, before you drove home, I hugged you for the first time in years. It felt like the least I could do. You were the reason I'd got there and I was too selfish to appear grateful before.

One of my favourite films is called Mirror. It trawls through the memories of a dying man, you'd hate it. I'm sure to you it's another part of my weird taste in movies. Anyway, the final five minutes of Mirror are possibly the greatest in all cinema. A woman is asked a question: "would you rather have a boy or a girl?" The film doesn't show us her answer. I think of this scene often, of what mothers must desire for their children. You weren't married when I was born, and I wonder, what did you want me to become? For a long time, I felt like I failed you. I have no doubt that if we had lived through war or dire poverty, you'd have still raised me right. But did I grow up to become what you imagined? A neurotic movie nerd with trouble socialising. Am I worthy of you? I don't know, but all I know is that I have to try to make something of myself. I have to make you proud.

When I look through my pile of memories, I have so many that I treasure. I remember when you studied for a degree whilst also raising two teenagers. I was so proud to see you graduate. I remember all the places you took us, all the times I misbehaved, all the ways you protected us. It's all so valuable to me. Whatever happens, I plead to God I never lose those memories.

Dad left a photo album downstairs last week. Inside was pictures of when I was 3 and 4, in our old house in Harehills. I forgot how small it was. But in every single picture I noticed something: I was smiling. Childhood is filled with little crises, but you got me through all of them. I can never thank you enough.


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