Featured Artwork: Lesi Johnson
There are so many things I’ve wanted to tell you, but I’ve never made the time or found the strength. So many unsent texts, times I’ve walked away from your closed bedroom door, calls cut short because of an impending errand. Now, I’ve but two weeks left with you and it has dawned on me that time only grows shorter as the distance between us grows further.
So, I’ve decided to write you a letter — a tangible present stamped with the memories of our past, sealed with the hopes we place in each other’s futures.
Where should I start? 23 years worth of thoughts are floating about in my head, but no one bubble pops out from the rest. 23 years worth of memories but nothing seems to encapsulate all that is nested in my heart.
Since I can’t find a beginning, should I start at the inevitable end?
I pray in the distant future, as you look back on your time as a mother, you feel pride. I hope you will be content with the paths your children embarked on, happy with the daughter I became. I know I don’t make it easy. I know I’ve strayed far from any dreams you envisioned for your family. I know a lot of it doesn’t make sense to you, and therefore terrifies you. I understand why you think these things are wrong.
You were raised to achieve certain milestones by certain ages. You were pressured and drilled by your mom and dad to be a certain type of person. That pressure brought you success, stability, and security — the three things every parent wants for their child. That’s why you pushed me into extra-curriculars, part-time jobs, accelerated academic programs. I was strutting down the street you labelled success, when at 17, I veered a sharp right into an alley named disappointment.
I’ve seen the fortunes your life has brought you, but I’ve also seen your struggle. Your tears. Your pain. Finishing high school at 17 with a rainbow of opportunities shining through my window, I saw myself transforming into you. I was a hard worker, blessed with intellect and a desired skillset, but it all came at the expense of my contentment. I was lonely. My life was filled with fleeting moments of what should have been happiness, but I could only feel empty. There was no satisfaction in my accomplishments nor pride in my triumphs, because they weren’t mine. They were yours. I was merely a mirror of your past, built from the broken shards of your childhood.
This realization terrified and angered me. Why should I relive your successes and re-make your mistakes? If were to continue on this road, would I merely end up a B-grade reflection of you? I didn’t want that. I had to shatter that image. I wanted to be my own person, someone who was sincerely happy with the choices they made and the memories they’d built.
Which is why I have to go. I have to explore, listen to the world and learn from its tales. It’s why I need to decide a profession for myself and why I need to choose my own partner. It’s why I need to do things you disapprove of — because they are the very things you wouldn’t do yourself. I hope one day, you’ll be happy for me and my decisions. I hope I can show you that success comes in all shapes and sizes. I pray you’ll smile with pride looking at the path I’ve forged for myself. I hope a day will come when you’ll be able to look at me and see me for who I am, and not just a broken reflection of yourself.
Your hopeful daughter