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"I pray you have found a way to heal the wounds I created." A letter to my estranged daughter.


My Darling Girl,

When you were a baby, you were like a little elf. You had a pixie-like presence, full of curiosity, wonder and joy. Your name means “Joyful Spirit” and it fits you to a T. I remember the glorious hours I spent nursing you, rocking you and singing lullabies to you, while you smiled up at me. When I would stop singing, you would ask for more.

When you were four years old, you walked into the kitchen one day, and without any lead-in, asked “Mummy, when am I going to get my violin?” I laughed at the seeming impromptu nature of this question. We had never talked about this before, although you had heard a lot of classical music coming out of our stereo.

When we did get you a violin at age seven, your teacher said he was sure you had played the violin in a former life. You were a natural. I guess that is why you asked such a seemingly random question. You were still young enough to remember.

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Your teacher told me one day, without an ounce of irony, “This child has been here before. She is an old soul.”

So, there it was again. The confirmation that you had been around before and the awe at the fact that you had chosen me to be your mother this time around.

You were so smart that you were put ahead a grade.

Looking back, I wonder if I should have said no when your teachers suggested this. You were smart enough to be moved ahead two grades, of that I am certain. But did it hurt you in other ways? I can only surmise.

Your intellect was not restricted to academics, however. You were a keen observer of the human condition, and you had a way of making the absurdities of life into jokes and parodies that made us all laugh until we cried. You were a gift to our family — a family that was suffering so much pain — and we needed you.

I wonder, though, if you weren’t attempting to cover the pain, to mitigate the pain for us. It was a job you never should have taken on, and if I had realised what was happening, I would have made sure that you were getting your needs met, not allowing you to meet our needs.

But as happens sometimes in families, the dynamics become set and each person has a role to play. I am heartbroken that yours was to be the comedic relief for ours. I want to rip up the pages of the past and rewrite them. The only way I can do that is to tell you how sorry I am.


At some point, you learned to make little origami hearts out of thin red paper. I still have the one you made me that opens up and says, “I Love You” on the inside. It is one of my greatest treasures.

You would often leave little love notes for me to find. At times, you would make my bed for me and leave a little gift or a note on my pillow.

I see how hard you were trying to take care of me. I love you for that, and I am sad about it, too. You were precious beyond words and I loved you so fiercely, but I should have been taking better care of you, not the other way around.

When you were in your early teens, you fell in love with the idea of being a Hippotherapist — someone who uses horses as a therapeutic modality for those with disabilities.

I remember when you gave your school speech about Hippotherapy, including music, quotes and photos projected on a huge screen behind you.

You had the entire assembly of parents in tears. It was just like you, to tug at heartstrings, to display your love of horses and people in a way that made us all want to be you when we grow up. I was so proud of you.

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One of my favourite memories of you is when you would go out into the pasture with your latest Harry Potter book, and swing up onto the back of your white horse, lying there while he grazed, the two of you as comfortable with each other as if you sprang from the same root. That memory is so imprinted on my soul that it will go with me to my dying day.


Watching you take your seat on your horse and ride in the dressage ring always made goose flesh rise up on my arms and the hair at the back of my neck prickle. You were elegance personified.

You have always been my hero. You never took any cr*p from anyone, but you were always the first to be there when anyone was in need. Your compassion was huge.

You taught me to see the world through the eyes of joy.

I can still hear your squeals of excitement when the Pumpkin Spice Lattes come back to Starbucks in autumn.

I can hear you ask impishly if there will be cake any time an invitation for an event came. Cake made any event worth attending in your mind.

I can still hear your phone message you left when you drove past a pasture with a sign that read, “Mini Ponies for Sale.” You were adorable in your plea to be allowed to have them.

Everything brought you joy.

You are 27 now. You have grown into a stunning young woman. Your tall, elegant presence commands attention when you walk into a room. I am amazed that something so beautiful came from my womb.

You are a beautiful, light-filled being, and I feel your presence in my life every day.


As I have worked to heal my many deep wounds, I pray that you have been able to find a way to heal the wounds that I created, that our family created. I know that I always loved you with a ferocious love. I still do.

May you be well. And if we should ever walk this life together again, may we do it with cake, and lattes, and the joy of forgiveness, laughter and music to accompany us.

I love you,


Feature Image: Getty.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission.

Beth Bruno wrote her first story when she was eight years old. She has been writing about life and all its complexities ever since. She keeps thinking that one day she will get it all figured out. She writes about relationships, mindfulness, mental health and things she sees out her window. She loves hanging out with her adult children and grandchildren, gardening, raising chickens and camping on uninhabited islands. You can follow her on Medium here and Facebook here.

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