Dear diary - winner


I remember the day I saw my father’s blue work van pull out of the drive for the last time. I remember not having a clue what it all meant, what was waiting for me ahead. I remember the following weekend and how he never showed to pick me up. Every Friday night after school he always picked me up but this Friday there was nothing, not even a phone call to explain.

I remember 2 years later, the day I saw that same blue work van again, leaving my street, as I was playing with my friends. I remember chasing that van up the street, running out of breath, struggling between breath and tears, I ran as fast as my 7 year old legs would take me, all the way home. I remember my mother handing me a birthday card, just like I remember crying myself to sleep, asking myself why.

I remember the day officers forced entry into my home and took my mother to prison, I remember packing up and moving to her friend’s house. I remember school friends asking and I remember how ashamed I felt. I remember the first time I visited her in prison, bagging her to come home.

I remember the day my mother called me to her and passed me the phone, to hear my father’s voice, how my 11 year old self uncontrollably melted for his attention. He was still gold dust to me. I also remember how 6 months later he told my mum his wife didn’t like me and how he never wanted to see me again. I remember all the times I rang my grandparents, begging to see him or hear his voice, and how they told me he doesn’t want me and I should never call again. I remember how over the years those tears turned into anger and anger moulded into fierce determination. I remember promising myself to do good, be good and be something he would want and would approve of but I remember the broken home I went back to every night after school and I remember how hard it was to do homework at home, how hard it was to go into school with the 2 hours’ sleep I got amidst the chaos the alcohol leaked into my home.

I remember all that I witnessed. I remember everything I experienced. I remember how different I was to all my friends. I remember coming home to nothing and nobody for days, feeling so alone and so empty for so long.

I remember 18th March 2011 and I remember how scared I was. I remember it was a Friday, I had just finished cheerleading and wandered home slowly after training, dragging my feet, in the hope that mum would be home tonight, so I could get into the warm.

I remember the fear of change and the fear of new faces, the comfort of my own company, the comfort of my own routine and way of living. The way I washed my own clothes, the way I kept my room. I was my keeper. I led my rules. I ran how the day began and how it ended, with the complication of events that were out of my control, but I knew I needed structure to prevent me straying. Which takes me back there, to march 18th, the day I faced my fears, stood shakily in the hands of what scared me the most, help. I finally took control of those reoccurring events knocking me down. I asked for another chance at life. I was selfish for the first time in my life and took what I needed.

I remember how much it took me to sit down and ask for help, I wasn’t scared of leaving my home, I was scared of steeping into a family, I feared rejection, I craved to impress, but it was never like that was it? I was never rejected, for the first time in my life, I was accepted. I found love between four walls, in a small cul-de-sac in ---.

I remember 4th April 2011, just over two weeks later, driving into that cul-de-sac, stepping out of the car and walking nervously to the front door. I remember what stepping between those four walls felt like for the first time, what home really should have been, what dinner time looked like. My firazt family meal. For the life of me I cannot remember what we ate but for the first time in my life, I was asked how my day at school was.

I remember opening my GCSE results, on my own, by the side of the school building with a pause in my heart and a silence in my breath. I remember opening it to 5 A’s and 5 B’s. I remember who I called right after I opened them and I remember what they said. It was my foster carer, and she told me she knew I’d do it.

I remember flying out on a self-funded trip to South America at 17, on my own, to volunteer and make a difference to children who were just like how I used to be. I remember flying out to China after receiving 3 A levels to teach English and learn Chinese at 18. I remember the support I received from social services and my foster carers to achieve all of my big dreams.

I remember how hard it was suffering with depression on my own for so long and I remember how much easier it got with the support of my foster carers. I remember the feeling of being re-birthed. I finally, after 14 years of a strong, lonely struggle. Felt at home. How I thank everyone for giving me such a beautiful second life. How I praise the care system for not giving up on me like everyone else did.

I know what love is now and I know how powerful it is.

All my love,

Judge's comment

This is a beautiful, powerful, inspiring piece of writing and it moved me to tears.  It was a privilege to read it and it is my absolute winner.  What a remarkable young person we read about here! I like the “dear diary” concept and the repetition of “I remember…” gives it a pleasing and effective rhythm.  It’s certainly a piece of writing that I’ll remember for a very long time.  Very well done to the author and all best wishes for the future. Keep writing! We need more voices like this! Tony Walsh