TWSC Series: Footprints of a Survivor – The Motherless Daughter

Photo: Kim Mukwa

Footprints of a Survivor is a weekly column written by Kim Mukwa, a survivor of childhood physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Each week, she reveals the layers of pain she lived through, the damage it caused and the steps she is taking to heal emotionally.

A mother is an integral part of a human being’s life. She becomes the centrepiece of the family, a symbol of warmth and care. This is why her absence makes the world sometimes very void and cold.

For me, this has been my life. Like I said before, my mother left me as a baby but would often visit. Although I do not remember much of it, I do remember sitting on her lap, being fed by her, and it was my throne. I also recall a time when she brought me a little purse filled with coins as well as a green petticoat. I was between 5 and 6 years old, so you can understand why I cannot recall much.

The most vivid memory is when my brother took me to see her. I can see her even at this moment, running towards me when she realised who my brother had brought. She grabbed me, kissed me and even gave me the mango she had been eating. Lol. Looking back at that moment, I do know that my mother did love me. But the question remains: why did she abandon me? Who will answer me now that she passed away in 1997? From my recollection, the “mango” day was the last time I saw her alive.

Do you know the feeling you have when you expect to someday see someone again only to realize that all that time, the individual was dead and you just didn’t know it? It was exactly like that for me.

After she passed, I do not remember being told that my mother had passed away. All I knew was that she didn’t want me because the visits had stopped and that one day she would definitely come back and rescue me from the hell. But she never returned.

The time I knew she had passed on was when the elders where whispering amongst themselves. I was afraid to ask; I just mourned on my own. There was no one to share the pain with, no one to tell me I was going to be alright.

By this time, I was in my teens with hormones pulling this way and grief pulling the other way. Confusion reigned during that time. The grief has never really dissipated. It remains within me as a silent scream that no one can hear but me.

In early 2015, my mother’s grandmother passed away and that’s when I had the opportunity of travelling to her rural home. As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle, my mother’s relatives just knew who I was and broke down in tears right along with me. Having them recognize me even though we were meeting for the first time brought out the grief that I had kept hidden for years.

Seeing my mother’s grave for the first time further made it clear to me that indeed, she had really passed away in 1997 because honestly, there were times I thought she would just walk through the door.

Like I said before, all I have is questions as to why she left me. What happened between her and my father that was so bad? Why did she have to die before she could explain everything to me? Questions upon questions. No one to answer. Silence!

Even as an adult, being without a mother is not easy. I often see how unappreciative some children are of their parents, yet I envy them. I envy the warmth a mother brings to the home, how she guides and how I know I will always have a shoulder to lean on when times are difficult.

God has been my source of comfort and strength, but still as a human, I crave a mother’s embrace. I often imagine how life would be for me if she were still here.

If I am to be blatantly honest, I sometimes feel a level of resentment towards her for leaving me the way she did. I long to understand it all. I know I would have understood if she had explained it to me.

Now that I am a mother myself, and knowing that life is not promised to anyone, I try to be there for my kids, hugging and kissing them, although they wipe off my kisses, lol. I still reassure them that I am there for them. I am trying to turn my negative experience into a positive one for my sake as well.

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