I was always under the impression that family is forever and that if ever one of us was stuck in the muck, we’d help each other out. I thought if I showed you that you could count on me no matter what, you’d know I’d be there. I thought if I would help you succeed in reaching your goals, you’d know how much I care for you. I thought if I could provide a future that is different than your past, you’d know I’d be the light to guide you. I thought if I could walk beside you, you’d know that you can trust me with your darkest nightmare and your brightest joy.

The first thing you declared when you returned from your year-long adventure was that you would leave again soon. You made it clear that you wanted to be treated like an adult, but you didn’t act like one. It made it difficult to take you seriously.

You announced that you didn’t want to receive any physical touch. I was worried something bad had happened, but accepted your wish with an aching heart. I wanted to reach out so many times and hug you. I wanted to tell you I’m glad to see you, but you sat on the couch with your surly expression letting the world know to stay away from you.

You told half-truths. You kept secrets and tried to hide things from me. Somehow, the truth always found its way home. “Bad news doesn’t get better with time,” is something I’ve said many times. Somehow that must have escaped your mind.

You made yourself the victim each time something came up. I don’t know how it is possible that everyone is out to take you down–every time? You are the common denominator in the equation and I am beginning to believe it’s you, my dear.

I don’t know what will happen, but what I do know is that despite it all, I am proud.

I am proud because I can see you are scared, but want to be fiercely independent. I can appreciate that for what it’s worth.

I am proud because I know I have done the best I could raising you with the circumstances given.

I am proud because I know if you apply every lesson I tried teaching you, you will indeed succeed.

Yet, there are things I wish I had done differently, had I known that it would end like this.

Had I known that the last time we would have dinner together as a family of five, would be on a Tuesday night weeks ago when I cooked my favorite spaghetti and roasted veggies, I would have made sure that it was your favorite meal instead.

Had I known that losing custody of you when you were small would result in lasting psychological damage, I would’ve fought harder.

Had I known that raising you would be one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, I might’ve thought I wasn’t up for the task. 

Had I known that you would walk out of our house with a smile on your face, saying, “Goodbye and have a nice day!” on yet another Tuesday and not return, I would have at least given you a hug and told you, “I’ll love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

I’m sorry I can’t change the past.

The future is in your hands. We will see if you’re up for the task.

I’ll let you go with Bruno Mars’ words, “You can count on me, like one, two, three, I’ll be there.” And I hope “that when I need it, I can count on you like four, three, two, you’ll be there,” because that’s what family is supposed to do.

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