December 13 2020

Dear mum,

Three years today. Wow! Sometimes it feels like December 13, 2017 was just the other day, other times it feels like it has been a million years since that fateful December you left us at 1:10 a.m.

2020 has not been the year I thought it would be. I thought it would be just as good as, if not better, than 2019. But 2020 is nowhere near as good, and definitely NOT better, than its predecessor. This year the novel coronavirus has wreaked havoc across the globe, with over 1.5 million people dead so far. We are in a pandemic mum. A goddamn pandemic! Something no one could have anticipated as we rang in the new year, shouting “Happy New Year!” as we kissed and hugged our loved ones, and called the ones who were not with us to tell them “Happy New Year!”

Sometimes I wonder how life would have been like for you, and for us, if you were alive this year. Hospitals limited visitors to one per patient per day and I often wonder how we would have navigated that as a family. Remember how sometimes on weekends you could have as many as 10 people in your hospital room? Now you would not have had that many visitors in one week mum. I think that would have been hard for you, and I know it would have been hard for me. I would have wanted to visit you daily but would have had to split visitation with the rest of the family. It would have been very hard for me not being able to regularly see for myself how you are doing.

I also wonder how safe you would have been from the virus because of how immunocompromised you were for most of your battle with cancer. Remember how once or twice you were scheduled to have a surgery done, but it had to be postponed because of a low white blood cell count. How safe would you be from the virus in a hospital, or in your own home with your many visitors, given how low your white blood cell count often was? How would it have been for your mental health having to limit your visitors, and your interactions with them, given you were an extrovert and was energised by being around people? I think about these things from time to time and a large part of me is thankful that I will never know the answers to those questions.

This year, because of the pandemic, I have been working from home mum. I have not spent a day in the office since March 18th and that is the second best thing to happen to me this year. You know how much I love being in the house so working from home has been a dream come true. Not to mention the fact that I have also not seen my annoying colleagues since March 18th. That has been good too, because you know how easily people exasperate me. It has not been all rainbows and butterflies though because my industry, like many others, has been adversely affected by the pandemic. A number of employees have been let go and so there was a time my anxiety was sky-high as I worried whether I would be let go as well. But the year is coming to a close and I am still employed and for that I am grateful.

Mum this year my relationship with Junior has not improved even the slightest bit. We have only spoken twice, once on phone and once in person, and it really bothered me that we continue to remain estranged years after your death. It really weighed heavy on my heart, especially when people would tell me that this is not what you would want for us. But it is not me who is not behaving in a way that you would not want. It is not me who has chosen to remain estranged from my family. It is not me who constantly refuses to let people in whenever they try to reach out. That is all on him and so months ago I made the decision to no longer shoulder the responsibility of that decision with him and I must say that my heart has been lighter for it. I no longer feel bound to fix a relationship the other party has no intention of fixing. Of course I worry about him constantly, but he is a grown man who has chosen to live his life this way and until he decides to do better, there is nothing I can do to change the situation. I am working with my therapist to unlearn my need for control. She tells me time and time again that the only thing I can control is me and that I need to learn to let go of the things I cannot control. I cannot control Junior’s actions and so I choose to no longer bear any of the burden as to why your three children are living in a way that, undoubtedly, makes you unhappy.

Remember when I said that working from home is the second best thing to happen this year? In last year’s letter I said:

I am still single, but mum there is a guy … gosh! It is still early days but he always has me wondering: have I known you twenty seconds or twenty years? Mum he makes my heart sooo full it feels like it is going to burst. I really wish y’all could have met. You would have really liked him because Lawd knows I stupid like him.

Well I am no longer single anymore mum. I am in a relationship with the best guy ever and I love him soooo much. For all the disappointment 2020 has come with, it has allowed my boyfriend and I to spend more time together than either of us would have thought possible at the beginning of the year, and that is the best thing to happen to me this year. His presence in my life is unmatched as he came into my life at such a difficult time, when I least expected it, and in the most beautiful way. He understood how difficult December is for me, seeing as you died 12 days before Christmas and so last year, even before we officially started dating, he made the decision to spend Christmas with me this year so that I am not alone. He comes from a very close-knit, very religious family, so him choosing to spend Christmas with me is a big deal. He also goes home every Saturday to see his family, but he decided months ago to spend this entire weekend with me so that I do not have to be alone for even one minute. He is just soooo loving and I wish more than anything that you two could have met because you would have loved him too. From time to time I dream that you two meet and talk and get to know each other, and while those dreams are bittersweet, they also provide great comfort to me because of how real they feel.

This was also the year I decided to tell your story mum and it has not been easy. I broke it down into 13 themes and while some of the themes have been easy to write, others, like the penultimate one that tells the story of your final admission, have wrecked me. But I made a commitment to tell the story of your battle with cancer and the fact that I have one theme left has me feeling extremely accomplished.

There is not much to say this year because 2020 was a really muted year for me and I am hoping for better and MORE in 2021. I love and miss you so much. Three years down, a lifetime to go.

Love always,

Lwishh

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