A Letter from your Mother

I admit I am a wee bit obsessed with the British version of Long Lost Family. This television show follows the journeys of people who are seeking family who were lost through circumstances like adoption or broken marriages. For four days straight I watched episode after episode both captivated by each subjects’ reunification and perplexed as to why the hell I was watching it all unfold. I mean, I am so obviously not adopted. Even though I am four and six years apart from each of my two sisters, we have been told numerous times – even by my own partner – that we look and sound like triplets.

By day four I put my finger on it, finally. Just before Christmas last year, and thanks to my father surviving a heart attack, our family had some difficult conversations that led us to being closer than ever. So close, in fact, that when I mention the word “sister” or when I say “I love you” to my blood family, I get a lump in my throat. It feels good, and new, and wonderful. As most of us know in the queer world, it wasn’t always like this. Relationships are hard and most blood family stories in our community don’t end with warm embraces. Sometimes we are faced with closed doors. Sometimes it’s aunties who don’t want to look you in the eye. Grandparents who whisper about you in the corner. Cousins who scan facebook and quickly untag themselves from photos with you. Siblings who fear having their children catch gay. So it is no surprise that Mother’s Day is one hell of a kick to the face for many of us.

Today is different though. Following the structure of Long Lost Family, I am giving you a letter from somewhere far away, some place you have dreamt of often in this place called the present. I write this with a hell of a lot of love, having been both a lost daughter and a well-meaning mother.

Dear beautiful child,

Look at you! No really, child. Look at yourself the way I see you, the way others see you. You are a miracle. You know how people wonder at the toes and fingers on a baby? You are still deserving of this awe for you are truly awesome, just the way you are. Each finger. Each toe.

I want to start with an honest apology for all the reasons we are not together today. Maybe it was time. Or a mistake. Or both. Either way I hope that in your heart you would find it in you to join me in a special place of your choosing.

Perhaps I could

  • Make you a grilled cheese sandwich, just the way you like it.
  • Tell you all the latest family gossip.
  • Rub your back while you tell me all the difficult things you did today.
  • Hold you tightly and kiss your temples.

If you want to, maybe you could

  • Show me something you are super proud of accomplishing.
  • Ask me for advice about something happening in your life.
  • Reach for that thing way up high on the shelf that I can’t reach.
  • Massage my hardworking hands.

Either way, it would be such a privilege, even in this imagined place, to share space again, for I would have never been a mother had it not been for you. And for that I am thankful.

Signing off for now, in the place where I am,

Catherine Hernandez

Catherine Hernandez is playwright, performer and award-winning author. She is the author of M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book (Flamingo Rampant) and Scarborough (Arsenal Pulp Press). She is the Artistic Director of b current performing arts.

Read all posts by Catherine Hernandez

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