I love you, Mum, but I worry that you’ll tear our family apart. I’ve seen Dad at his worst – he can barely cope. Your daughter is trying to study for her A-levels, but I know she cries at night.
I worry that nobody will be watching when you slip over in the kitchen, reaching for the bottle on the top shelf. You used to get angry at me. Then I grew up; I realised that you weren’t angry – you were frustrated, depressed and lonely.
Sometimes I wish you’d just “snap out of it” but, of course, I know that’s not how it works. So I’ll just keep helping you to get up every time you fall down, and I’ll keep turning off the oven every time you think it needs to be turned on, and I’ll keep hugging you and telling you, “It’s fine, we understand,” when really we can never know what it’s like.
It’s clear to me that soon you and Dad will separate. When that time comes, I’ll come and visit you and call you twice every day – just to make sure. I’ll drive you to your appointments and I’ll pick up your prescription. I’ll come to your house at Christmas and I’ll be the first by your side at the hospital – after you slip reaching for that bottle.
I hope I don’t have to do those things, because it won’t be easy for either of us and I’m worried I’ll resent you for it. I don’t want to do that.
I still remember the mum who took me to the cafe where we’d get a slice of carrot cake and do my spellings. I remember the mum who planned my birthday parties meticulously, and who tied my shoes every morning, and, even though I know you’re still the same mum, I can’t help wishing I could have the old you back.
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