A Letter to Redhead: All Heartfire

To Redhead,

You thought I would understand. Why you didn’t get treatment for your cancer, why you didn’t get a masectomy. But I don’t. You had two children who loved you, would it really have been such a bad thing to just do the normal thing?

I think what makes me the most angry is that I agreed with you. As a child, aged 8, I was crying on your hospital bed begging you not to get chemo. Because I was more scared of that, than I was scared of you dying. The brainwashing ran deep in me.

All those lectures about apricot seeds and chlorella and miso soup and raspberries. All of it useless against the ravages of your own body killing itself. And I believed all of it, even the literal poision of cyanide. And it killed you, mum.

I lost my mother aged 10.

It sounds so much cleaner than the actual truth, which is that my mother committed a slow form of suicide brought on by quacks and cult groupthink. I watched her suffer every single day for years, and she never got to do any of the things she wanted to.

You wanted to live with a man who loved you passionately.

You wanted see your children to grow up .

You wanted to dance and sing with your friends.

You wanted to eat sushi on the beach at Torquay.

You wanted to have a career as a Shiatsu practitioner.

You wanted long, luscious red hair.

You wanted blessings and happiness in your life.

You wanted your own mother to accept you for who you are.

You wanted to see your brothers and sisters grow old.

Mum, there’s such sadness in me when I think about you. Yes you were inspiring in your strength. You didn’t even take ibuprofen for the pain until the very end. But you were also blinded by your own anger and frustration with the world and the way it was. You cannot pray away cancer, and John of God has been arrested, now.

I’m glad you got to go to Brazil, though. You had such a travelling heart, and I hope that you are still travelling now among the stars. Finding your bliss and wearing clothes full of colour – not just white. Your grandson, Little Dove, reminds me of you sometimes. He’s all heartfire, just like you.

He will go to school, because I’m not as devoted as you were. You taught me to read at age three, and I never stopped reading, because of you. I’ve been to university, eaten lots of eggs and had lots of very good sex with men who loved me. You’d be proud.

It took me too long, but I honour you, Mum. You are my love and light, and for all the gifts you have given me, I am eternally grateful. I still don’t understand you, but I think that’s a debate I couldn’t have won anyway. I grew up to be just like you, which is to say, no one could ever quite win an argument with me.

I love you Mum,


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