My dearest daughter,

If I had known that Friday March 20th, 1987 would go down in the story of my life I would have paid closer attention to the soft morning light on that day. I would taken every minute to embrace the smells and sound of this day that would forever be engrained in my memory. But memorable moments rarely come with forewarning. So this particular Friday I woke up as though nothing was particular, and in fact nothing was.

The day unrolled as it always did: I did the groceries and cleaned up our tiny apartment on the 5th floor of the 15th Arrondisment in Paris. Your father was at work, a typical day. Claire {your aunt} came to pick me up in the early afternoon and we went for a stroll as a distraction on this very ordinary day. We were on Avenue the Moine in a home décor store when you manifested your decision to come into the world.

Everything went very fast: the call to your father in a panic, the terrible traffic, the agitation at the hospital until I fell unconscious under anesthia. And then when I awoke, a moment of pure bliss. I have stored this moment in my mind. I can still feel your tiny body against mine. Your immediate conviction in me as your mother. So fragile and tender you redefined my existence. I remember the softness of your skin, your smell and then discovering your little nose, big blue eyes and incredible little locks. And the next day I discovered your smile.

That perfect day you granted me motherhood. 29 years later I wish I could state with confidence that I was a good mother, that I did my due diligence and fulfilled my role. But, my darling, when I look at you and all that your are, and have achieved, I am proud but feel so far removed from the result. I cannot identify what I did right in raising you. Many will say my failings and faults made you strong and gave you the courage to be who you are. But my heartaches in knowing all the pain and suffering I caused you.

At the tender age of 6 weeks your grandmother adopted you as her own. This was a solution to my shortcomings as a mother. You had developed a severe lung infection due to the intolerable pollution in Paris. You also manifested early signs of separation anxiety most likely due to your early introduction to day-care. I was a student at the time, I didn’t fully embrace my role as a mother and still desperately wanted to finish my PhD in Pharmaceuticals. Ironically, I never finished it and at the same time forever severed our relationship. Off you went to live with your grandparents in St. Malo. Your father and I traveled on the weekend to visit you but being young we also took the time to visit friends and went on excursions. How foolish I was to think those precious days, weeks, months and years would not forever define our relationship.

When you were 4 years old your father got an important promotion. We suddenly felt like adults. Shamelessly we snatched you from your grandparents and moved you half way across the world to Vancouver BC. How selfish of us to believe we were entitled to raising you.

I was rapidly met by my shortcomings: I was desperate to entertain myself and explore this new city ignorant of this small child and its needs I was responsible for.

I want you to know that I remember every moment I failed you. Every time I did not try to be a mother. Every time I ignored my responsibility for your well-being.

These are the things I know that I never attempted to face..

–       You cried yourself to sleep every night and all we had to do was come tuck you in..but I let you cry.

–       That when you were six you would eat my SlimFast bars. I know you weren’t eating them as a treat or because they were tasty. You too were replacing meals.

–       That I told you your little brother had gotten ill and almost died because your hands were dirty.

–       That you were wetting your bed for the simple reason that I let you drink Coca-Cola before bed.

–       That I ignored you more times than I loved you.

–       I hated you when you completely stopped eating at the age of 12. I resented the attention you got from the doctors and therapists.

–       I lied to your principal when I told her we were working on your anxiety and eating disorder as a family.

–       I know that when you were 14 and hospitalized for eating rat poison it wasn’t a “stupid mistake” on your part.

–       I should of taken photos of you in your prom dress instead of telling you you looked ridiculous with that all makeup on.

–       I would not have been able to raise your brother and sister without you. I never thanked you for all that you did. Instead I criticized you and your natural ability to love and care for others.

–       And even when you said you were better and tried to fool us by eating. I listened to you throw up night after night and your body disappearing. I knew you were in pain but I failed to reach out and care for you as I should of.

–       That I never told you I missed you even after months of not seeing or speaking to you.

Now you are 3,700 kilometers away, successful, beautiful and strong. I haven’t been at the finish line at any of the marathons you run. I did not provide any funds, support or advice for the company you own and run, You worked full-time throughout all of your university degrees. And you have so many. I never read your papers or went to any of your graduations.

But here I am selfishly telling you I would give the moon to go back to holding your tiny body to my chest and live up to the role you so innocently entrusted in me.

Love,

Your Mom

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