Hi, Mom. I love you.

Hi, there. It’s been a while. Untold years since we last actually spoke like mother and daughter, but less than a year since we last actually spoke. I encouraged you to go after an opportunity you clearly wanted to pursue. Did you go for it? I unblocked you on social media so I could find out, but you never post updates.

This was the first year of my life that you didn’t call on my birthday. I pretended to be relieved that I didn’t have to choose between answering the phone or not, but if I’m being honest it hurt like hell to be forgotten. Except, I know you didn’t forget me, because … well, we won’t go into that.

I’ve graduated with two college degrees. Are you proud of me? I had my first article published this year, and I was paid for it! Do you even know? I’m in a Master’s program now. Do you tell your friends about me?

Do you remember how, all those years ago, you told me I was a good writer? I didn’t believe you because the man you married said the opposite, but I kept on writing anyway. My professors agree with you now. Does that make you smile?

Do you remember your second-to-last birthday before I left home, when I wrote you a long letter saying that I was sorry I had been so harsh to you for so many years? That I was just angry, and didn’t understand why life was the way it was? Do you remember how we became friends, for a while? Do you remember staying up late talking about the blonde boy I thought was so cute? Do you remember how finally, one night you screamed back at the man you married, in defense of me and my potential and my burgeoning love with that boy? Do you know how for the first time it made me feel protected in my own home?

Do you remember those months of emotional work we did together, coaching one another through the horrors of our lives? And the way it came to a head that day when you asked me to pack our bags? Do you remember how willing I was to help you, to keep you safe, to be your partner in getting us all to safety?

Do you remember the betrayal in my eyes when two weeks later you agreed to go back to him? Do you hear the betrayal still echoing in my voice every time we speak? Is that why you don’t call?

I tried, Mom. I thought that maybe if I was good enough, loved you and my siblings enough, sacrificed enough, was patient enough, you’d come back to me. I thought that maybe your own flesh and blood mattered more to you than marriage vows he broke God only knows how many times.

I’m still out here, Mom. I’m still trying. And hoping. And praying that maybe one day I’ll have a mom again. I’m still writing, because you always liked my writing. And I pray for that man you chose because I know that that is what you would have me do. And I don’t let people call me Becca anymore, because you always called me Becca, and it hurts to hear them say it because you don’t say it anymore.

You always said that you had a simple faith. You said it like it was barely enough, and I heard it like it wasn’t enough at all. But what do you call a twenty-something who hasn’t had a mom in almost a decade who still stays up nights thinking about you? Maybe it’s simple faith. Maybe it’s just stupidity.

But you didn’t call. It was my birthday and you didn’t call. And I don’t know how to hope anymore.

I forgave you for every time you didn’t stop him in his rages. I forgave you for every time you took the abuse he did to you and turned it back around on us. I forgave you for what happened every time you left the house. I forgave you for the birthday parties I didn’t have, and the friends I didn’t get to keep, and the love I didn’t experience, because I knew you were suffering as much as I was.

But you didn’t call. You always said how birthdays were the most important thing to you, and you didn’t even call. It’s like I died. Except I didn’t. I’m still here. Barely, some days. Miraculously. I don’t know if you know how close I came to not being here. I don’t know if you care. Because you didn’t call.

I miss my mom. I hate him for taking my mom away from me. I hate you, some days, for letting him. I deserve you more than he does, but that doesn’t seem to matter. But I’ll still be here, the rest of my life, and a part of me will be waiting. Hoping. Dying a little every day that you don’t call. But damn it all if the day you do, if when you call you need me to come get you and take you away from him forever, I won’t drop everything to do just that. You know I will. I hope you call. I love you.