December 13 2021

Dear mum,

Four years today.

2021 has been a difficult year for me and I was completely unprepared for how deeply I would feel your absence this year. My mental health was in the pits for a large chunk of the year and I ended up falling out of love with so many things that usually spark joy in my life. I am doing much better now but I cannot count the number of times I wanted needed to pick up the phone and call you. To hear you tell me that you love me and that everything is going to be okay. Or how many times I wanted to come home and have you hug me as you comforted and reassured me that this too shall pass. I needed you this year but through no fault of your own you were not here.

On the other hand, this has been a fantastic year for your nieces. Vanessa big and Ciiku got married and I was a bridesmaid at Ciiku’s wedding. Gathoni had her introduction and is getting married next year, Vanessa small finally graduated and Barbara got a promotion and is now based in Mombasa. But as much as I am happy for my cousins, there is a part of me that is crushed by how much life continues to go on without you. Like, how dare it!!? That is the tragedy of loss though, realising that life goes on and you have no choice but to go along with it otherwise you will get stuck in your grief and grief is not meant to be a place to stay. Something your son has chosen to do hence our relationship has not improved this year as he has chosen to hold on to his grief as his way of honouring you, no matter how often I tell him that is not what you would have wanted for him. In fact this is the first anniversary I am not spending with my siblings, and while I feel some typa way about that, I understand it was bound to happen eventually. At least I got to spend two days with your daughter last week during Ciiku’s wedding weekend, but your son is the one I was not expecting to hear from and true to form he did not say/ask anything about meeting up today. It is deeply disappointing, but if there is one thing I have learnt this year it is that I cannot take ownership for how he feels no matter how badly I want to. But at least my boyfriend is with me today as he is the kind of man who would not let me be by myself on the four year anniversary of your death and I am grateful for that.

Speaking of my boyfriend, I got to meet his parents this year on Father’s Day and they are the loveliest in-laws you could ever want for me. Before we even met my future father-in-law said to my boyfriend that since I do not have parents maybe they can become my parents with time, so it was especially meaningful to me that I got to meet them on Father’s Day because you know I do not have, and have never had, a father. I have met his parents thrice this year and his siblings twice, and as much as it was wonderful to meet them, it was also a bit heartbreaking knowing they would not get to meet you because I know they would have LOVED you. Every now and then I get reminded that my boyfriend will never get to know you and it always breaks my heart because I know you two would have gotten along so well if only breast cancer did not steal you from us.

I finally got a permanent contract at work this year and I really wish you were around for that as you know how badly I wanted that for me and for you. I used to joke that empowerment was your favourite word so getting my permanent contract and not being able to immediately tell you about it was such a bittersweet feeling.

Reading through this letter, bittersweet seems to be this year’s theme as I really missed you for all the wonderful things that happened to and around me this year. In Life Goes On: A Double-edged Sword I wrote the more life goes on the more aware I am of what my mum has missed, and will continue to miss, out on. I love and miss you so much mum. Four years down, a lifetime to go.

Love always,

Lwishh

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