I don’t think one poorly thought-out letter is going to really cut it here, but what else do I have? I’ll just talk, and maybe something good will come up.
When I think about it, I still feel exactly the same way I did the day I left you in the hospital. I feel an indescribable pain – so painful it’s numbing, all I have is the sense of feeling as though I’ve been cut open from my heart to my gut. And I’ve been walking it off for a decade now.
I don’t really think you’d be all that proud of me. I think if I had done some of the things I’ve done in the last ten years while you were still here, you would have disowned me. Or, given the way we tended to sweep these things under the rug, I’d probably be dead from not getting myself any help. It’s easy to say that I wouldn’t have become – let’s not dress it up – a drug addict, but my dad was the one who started me on it and it was only a matter of time before I found someone who gave me something more exciting. And you turned a blind eye (no pun intended) to the weed, but I think the harder stuff would have really tested your patience.
I guess I wouldn’t have moved to Norfolk and gone crazy. I’d have stayed in Essex and gone crazy, most likely. That was all an accident, though. It was all an accident.
So it’s been ten years, and that means it’s coming up to ten years since I spoke to my parents. Would that make you sad? Mum’s boyfriend said to me that you’d told him you were glad I’d made up with her before you died because you were worried about me being alone, but I’ve never really known whether to believe him or not. It doesn’t sound like something you’d say. It definitely doesn’t sound like something you’d say to him. You never really worried about me anyway, I don’t think. Not like that. I always land on my feet, right?
Aside from the familial guilt, I feel better for being away from them. I can’t get people to understand this. I think you’d understand, but that’s not to say you wouldn’t feel a bit sad about it. I’m done with them, I’m happier alone. Not that I’m really alone anymore… I’m certain you’d love your great-grandaughter, even if you would have had your reservations about me having children at all. I don’t blame you for that. I don’t do a great job most of the time. I don’t have a fucking clue what I’m doing! But somehow, she’s amazing.
I have too much to say. None of it feels right.
I’m going to try harder.
I hope I didn’t accidentally kill you. I’m sorry I made you mad all the fucking time, and I’m so sorry that I left you in the hospital. I would have stayed there with you, if I’d been allowed. I would have happily taken you home if I had been able to cope. But I couldn’t, and I don’t know how to deal with the guilt from that. I don’t know if you’d forgive me. You would have taken my nan home, you would have done everything you could to make her comfortable and as happy as she could be. And I did not do that. That’s the thought that hurts me the most, and I make myself think about it because I deserve the pain. I should have tried harder.
I’m also sorry I went to America, even though it was something you pushed me into. I messed things up with the American guy eventually, and I’m not even sure why. Perhaps I felt like I had to. Although, in fairness, I messed things up with most guys. I fall for the wrong ones, I drive them crazy. You saw what happened just before I stopped going out anywhere. You were appalled. I was in love, or so I thought. My kind of love isn’t particularly heartwarming, though; I’m more like a heart attack combined with a brain aneurysm. While a stroke is occurring.
But this isn’t what I want to say at all. I find it hard to say all the soppy stuff – we had more of a sweary relationship, didn’t we? I want to say thank you for taking me in when my mum preferred to stay with an abusive moron, and I want to say sorry for… kind of everything. I was such a dick. I can try to explain it away, say ‘well look, this is what my mother did’ but I could have probably tried harder to not have been such a nightmare. I still don’t know if you let me do all the things I did – going to London, dropping out of school, leaving home – because you wanted me to make my own mistakes or because you were so exasperated with me that you just didn’t care.
I don’t blame you, regardless.
It’s hard to know where we’d be if the cancer hadn’t destroyed you. You’d be ten years older, and there’s quite a big difference between 76 and 86. For me, the difference between 22 and 32 is almost imperceptible – I have grey hair and wrinkles creeping in, and my liver and lungs are probably no longer eligible for donation, but nothing much has changed. I have spent the last ten years crying my heart out and trying to destroy myself and everything around me.
This can’t possibly be what you would want.
Or perhaps, all the horrible thoughts I have in my darkest moments are true, and the energy you left behind is coloured with disappointment in me. How can I ever know? I will never find out, not in this lifetime at least.
All I can do is try to change things now. You never seemed all that optimistic about my future, and I was just as determined to prove you wrong as I was to make you proud of me. I can still do that.
People say you’re not really gone if you’re not forgotten, and I can’t let go of your memory.
I love you.