Broken strings & Pretty things

The world, seen through a young girl's eyes.

Archive for the tag “family”


I feel as if things will forever be left in this continuous time gap; this half-way house between conscious and unconscious worlds, where I don’t know whether words fell on deaf ears, or entered the final beats of your heart. And now that I don’t know whether God exists, I don’t know whether you still do too. I can’t find you in a night sky or in the closed walls of my wardrobe, and I don’t want it to be that way.  I don’t want you to be an unfinished memory in a faded photograph. I don’t want you to be that snapshot of bandages and tubes and a forgotten phone call. I want to remember the sound of your voice and the brown in your eyes and the ability to drive to your house. I want you to have air in your lungs.


For Dad.

I’m trapped behind the barriers
screaming out your name
but you’re too far down the platform
just please don’t get on that train.

Hazy mornings are the most free
before the day rears his ugly face
before reality hurtles in
I cherish this bland taste.

But then my mind falls to sliding doors
to final words whispered through cracks
to last strokes of blue skin
to twenty past eight.

Some goodbyes can a outstretch a lifetime
like how I could have stayed all night
kissing your cheek, holding your hand
how leaving would have always been too soon.

I wish that you never got on that train
now all I have left of you are tracks.

To the most wonderful brother.

I can’t seem to remember a moment where you weren’t there.

From the wild days of exploring the big bad world in our back garden to exploring your new apartment in the big city, I have never stopped seeing you with those wide green eyes. You have always been there: my protector, my inspiration, my dearest friend. My big brother.
Whether you’re sitting in that crinkled leather chair listening to jazz music, or whether you’re walking the streets of London, I know that I can’t escape from you, because you are quite possibly the most important man in my life.

You got me through days which I thought wouldn’t end.
You had enough hope for both of us, even when I couldn’t hope myself.
You were proud of me when no one else answered the phone.
You made gingerbread houses and sang Christmas songs and danced around the house all night with me.
You sat me down when I thought I couldn’t go any more and told me that quitting would have been my biggest mistake. You beautifully right.
You cheered me on at every play or show or event and stayed until the very end.
You took me on wild adventures, whether it was to the next city or the other side of the continent.
You always made sure I was okay.
You had faith.

You believed in me, and you cheered me on and you knew that I could burn brighter. Because you never gave up on me. Because you never left me. You told me to push through it all, because you knew I would do it. And you were right. You always are.
Because you are the most beautiful person in my life. You are wonderfully human and make mistakes and set examples and always teach me a lesson. You’re kind and compassionate and inspiring and more wonderful than I can begin to imagine. You are indeed my north, my south, my east and my west. I talk about you incessantly. You’re the best brother I could have ever asked for, and I honestly cannot imagine where I would be without you.

From when I first met you when you were six, to gazing upon your twenty-four year old face, I still look at you with those wide eyes. You’re still my hero, my friend and my comforter.
You will never stop being there.

Happy birthday, you wonderful and beautiful man.


It’s hard to tell whether the day you left was different to any others. In retrospect, the air felt different: there was some coldness and distance and a lack of communication, but I don’t know whether it is the romance of hindsight which distorts the sad reality that was a normal occurrence in our disjunctive household.

I never knew whether I should write about this. At first it was too painful, and to be honest, I didn’t know whether it was true that he was actually leaving. There was a grey area weeks where I didn’t know he was coming or going. But afterwards, I never knew whether it was right to right about it: I have never been one to search for sympathy, especially when tragedy like this arises.
But now I feel it is time to right about him. About you; about the day you left and without hyperbole, the day which changed my life.

I had a biology exam that day, and therefore most of my memory is distorted because I was trying to study in the morning. But I do remember the fact that you came into my room and gave me breakfast in bed: a thing which you never did. I also noticed a flash of red on your arm from where you dressing gown had gaped: a tattoo streaked across your skin.
I should have said something, but I was too transfixed with my exam. It would have been in vain anyway: you would have covered it up and tried to digress.

Things had been strange for the past weeks. When mum was working away, you’d sneak off in the night and make absurd excuses for their reason. I was too captivated by work, perhaps subconsciously I knew what you were doing and used it as an excuse. Sometimes I’d lie in bed and hear you come back: you’d call goodnight but I would never respond. I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

You drove me to school that morning and I got out of the car. Maybe you said good luck for my exam, I’m not sure. You might have even told me that you loved me, and I probably mumbled something that sounded like that. I never liked to say those words unless I believed that they were true.

And when I came back, you were gone.
This was not just like the week before where you took some clothes but came back: this time it was for good.
You sent me a text telling me that you would always loved me. You sent me texts every day saying that you were sorry. I never replied.

To this day, I still don’t know what to think.
Through the lies and the debauchery and anger, maybe I have always lacked a father figure. I never really felt the love of a father. I could never be proud to call you ‘daddy’ and would never enjoy letting you meet my friends.
I still don’t know whether what has happened has actually hit me. Perhaps the hurt has left me numb; perhaps the hurt you keep instilling in my mother and watching her heart break has made it surreal enough.

Maybe I’ll never understand; I’ll never know what it was which made your strings break and what caused your light to stop shining. I wonder what left you helpless and broken and a shell of the man you once were.
I’ll never understand how you thought that breaking things would somehow fix them together.

I’ll never understand why you do those dreadful things you do.
There was an irony about that coffee cup you gave me that morning: one of yours clearly labelled ‘beyond help.’
Little did I know how literal those words would be.

Now that you are sleeping.

It was quarter to ten in the morning, seven days ago.
I didn’t get to hear the words. All I saw were the faint black letters framing the reality that, this time, you weren’t going to wake up.

I think that’s the first time I ever truly registered the fragility of life; the fact that one day someone is there, and the next their whole existence is vanished. That each person carries their own little light, and one day it’s snuffed out.
There are people out there, everywhere, living and breathing; their cheeks flushed with the warmth of life passing through each arteriole. They’re here. But the colours ran from your face. You got cold. You went somewhere, and I’m really not sure where it is.

Because losing someone through bereavement is not like a break up or your father leaving or your best friend moving across the world. There is no off-chance of bumping into them at the supermarket or seeing a picture of them on holiday with their new girlfriend. It’s the incomprehensible reality of realising that their presence will never touch your future. It’s realising that you can’t go and call them when you’ve had a bad day; it’s coming to realise that there will be a seat missing at Christmas.
It’s somehow turning someone who was once there, touching you, into a memory. It’s turning someone who once sang and loved and hoped into something that once was, and now no longer is.

Because you’re not going to see me go to university. You’re not going to hear how my exams are doing. You’re not going to be on the phone, reminding me to be careful and look after myself. You’re not going to see me fully grow up; you’re not going to see how I turn out.

But I know that you’re with him, and that you’ve been waiting for the day to once again be in his arms after this past decade. And I know that you are there, somewhere, still calling for me to keep going; to not use this as a reason to break down and give up, but to reach my dream: to just get these grades. And you’re smiling.
Because just like the pictures of us lined your bed, your memory and love and presence now lines each of our days.

I’m sorry that I can’t be there when they take you away. I’m sorry I can’t wave goodbye.
But I don’t need a church to give you my peace. I don’t need a eulogy to remember your spirit. I don’t need to wear black to remember how empty I feel that you are no longer in the world.

Instead, I’ll be making you proud in that exam room. Because you will be right there with me. Just like you always have been.

Sleep well beautiful. You finally deserve some rest.


Once more.

This is the letter that I should have written to you a long time ago.

I’m sorry that I am not one that excels themself in keeping in touch with others. I’m sorry that you called me the other week to congratulate me on passing my driving test and never returned it. I’m sorry that there once was a gap in which I didn’t see you for three years.

But as I sit here amongst the broken glass and damp photographs with the sand falling between us quicker than I dare to believe, all I muster is the dust gathered apology that I should have given you years ago.

Because I want you to know that I love you. I have loved you for as long as I can remember. I remember once spending Christmas at your house and remember you smiling down on me as I tore the paper off that stuffed rabbit you once gave me. I remember when you took me to the park and held my hand. I also vaguely remember the funeral, where you watched him slowly taken away from you.
Most of all, I remember the fact that you always smiled from a distance, because you never wanted to intrude; you never wanted to be a burden, or a hindrance or any form of convenience to anybody’s day. That’s why you never called, and that’s why you let all those months pass by: because you didn’t want anybody to feel as if you were a burden.

And that’s why I’m guilt stricken, sobbing and lying on the floor: because that’s why we have only just found out that this thing has been destroying you: that this devilish disease has crippled you from the inside out, unnoticed by all of us.
And I’m so sorry that I let you feel this way.
I’m so sorry that I left you fade into the background.
I’m so sorry that I didn’t make you carry on speaking on the phone.
I’m so sorry that I never visited.
I’m so sorry for not returning that phone call.

I’m so sorry for not being the granddaughter that you deserved.


Living by yourself at seventeen is hard.
Playing both mother and child is hard.
Balancing work and daily routine is hard.

But none of it compares to the loneliness that I have to endure. Nothing compares to the nights that silently echo into the darkness of lying in bed, knowing that I’m alone. Nothing compares to knowing that everyone else at school, everyone else that I know, have mothers who will pick them up from school, make them dinner and say goodnight to them. They have comfort, they have love, and they have sustenance.
They are able to wake up everyday to the noise of a family getting ready for the day ahead. They have privilege of having overbearing and annoyingly encouraging parents when they are trying to have a break. They have the beauty of a loving family to make them tea and offer a warm shoulder when they have a bad day.
They have tangibility; they have face to face conversations; they have noise.

Many girls my age don’t even know the meaning of an empty house. They have never had to cook for themselves, or endure a night without seeing a member of their family. To them, the worst thing is not getting their straight As, or forgetting to do that maths homework.
They don’t know what it is like to go to sleep hearing deathly silence, and they don’t know what it is like to have to wake up to the same thing. They don’t know what it is like to have to continually strive to fulfill their future, whilst having to actively and daily run their life. They don’t know what it’s like to live as if you were years older than you actually are.

Because when I see these girls jump into their mother’s arms, I’m not angry. I don’t protest about the injustice of it all. Instead, I continue to feel alone. I continue to feel cold and empty and yearn to feel the warmth of my mother’s love that I did when I was younger. All I feel is the bitterness of being alone, and living alone and facing the cold, hard brutality that I cannot do anything but face it.

Because I know that there are people out there who have it much harder than me; people struggle even further, and feel so much bleaker. And I feel ever more guilty for feeling as if I’m the one that is suffering.
But sometimes it’s just too much. Sometimes the world is just too sad.
Sometimes it’s the feeling of missing something, and never knowing when you’re going to get it back.


Seeing you cry today broke my heart, not only because it was the first time that it had ever happened, but because I knew that I can never understand just how badly it hurts; just how badly it always will.
But darling, please never think you are weak for crying when it gets tough. Please don’t think that you’re letting your mother down for not staying strong. Please don’t feel like you can’t talk about her in fear of breaking down all over again. Because, honey, that’s what we’re here for. We love you more than anything.

We know that she would be so proud of you. We know that you are the kindest, happiest and most beautiful young woman who has ever walked the earth. She knew that too. We know that though she may not be able to hold your hand every step of the way, she is there with you every moment. And she is smiling down at you, so proud to know that you are her daughter. At the breaking of every dawn, she is watching, and at the setting of the sun, she is still there.
She loves you, and always will.

Though the pain may never fully go away, I know that you will one day have the strength to read all of her letters; the strength to visit her and lay down those flowers; the strength to finally talk about her to your grandparents. You are not weak for having wounds that are still open after five years. I promise you that there has never been any more reason to cry than now.

I find it is always the people who have had their heart broken countless times are the people whose heart is the purest. Because I have never met anyone as selfless as you. You could be cold, or hateful or introvert, but instead of inflicting your pain on anyone else, you try to wipe away every tear.
Words do not describe the strength you have.

Just remember that I love you, we love you, and most of all, she loves you.
And she has had a wonderful birthday, from wherever she is.

Stay strong.

You’re doing so well. So, so well.
I’m sorry that I don’t always realise how much this is affecting you; how deeply this whole experience is shattering you.
I’m sorry that my own survival tactics are inflicting you. Because, after all, it is easier to fall out love with your father than your own husband.
But mom, you’re so wonderful. You’re so strong and selfless and faithful. Your perseverance is beyond words.

I’m sorry about the women at church. I’m sorry that some people choose scandal over sympathy. I’m sorry that some people will just not understand.
But I’ll stay by your side. So will the boys. Not because that’s what family do, but because we love you.
You’re our superhero; the woman who will prevail over anything.

We believe in you.


Being brave is waking up every morning, getting dressed, and standing tall even though you know that the day ahead is going to be painful.

Being brave is the day you stop using your pain as an excuse, but an incentive to strive further.

Being brave is knowing that there is no shame in crying when it hurts, and allowing to let your walls down even when they are the only thing keeping you strong.

Being brave is living by yourself at seventeen, when the rest of the girls your age don’t even know the meaning of an empty house.

Being brave is standing back and letting your mother shine, no matter how hard it is.

Being brave is sitting through the loneliness, even when it feels that the night won’t end.

Being brave is knowing that life will get bigger and bolder and brighter, and surviving the days when you hit rock bottom.

Being brave is smiling through the travesty. Being brave is being fierce when everything feels numb. Being brave is standing up for that life that you so desperately wish to achieve.

Being brave is not taming lions, or climbing mountains, or standing in front of a large crowd.
Being brave is never losing sight of your dreams, even when everything goes dark.


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