I am Loraine.

I am a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am a campaigner, a poet, and a trustee.

But most of all I am a mother.

‘God, I love my son.’ This is my daily affirmation. The love I feel for my son flows through my veins. It is unconditional, it is special.

Growing up in Malawi, life was difficult. My dad passed away when my mum was pregnant with me, and at seven months old my mum left me and my siblings at my grandmother’s and didn’t come back. I didn’t understand at the time. I felt confused, angry. How could my mum leave me?

So, I grew up with a deep longing for my mother. And when I became a mother to my son, I felt complete. I felt at peace.

We were inseparable and we were so happy. Whether it was growing crops together or eating a home-cooked meal, we were always laughing.

It wasn’t until years later that I finally understood the impossible choice my own mother had to make. Never did I think I’d have to make the same choice.

The heart-wrenching pain. The emptiness. The heaviness. The disconnect. A decision no-one should ever have to make.

Imagine leaving your child behind. Imagine kissing them goodbye and having no idea when you’ll get to embrace them again. Imagine how it feels.

A change in my circumstances meant that I needed to seek safety. But I never thought it would take this long.

I last saw my son in 2011. Thirteen years ago. But it feels like a lifetime.

I feel incomplete. A part of me is missing. I am a mother, in love, in spirituality, in care, in compassion, but not in physicality. Even though it’s been 13 years, I still think he’ll come into my room to say goodnight, or that he’ll join me at the table for dinner. The longing never ends.

Being apart is so painful, it has caused us both so much trauma. Sometimes I feel like I’ve let him down. Now, we cry together.

My son was a young teen when I last saw him. Now he’s a man with a family of his own – a beautiful baby girl, my granddaughter. ‘Listen granddaughter, my love comes from as far and as deep as an ocean.’

We need to be together. For the big moments. And for the everyday moments.

Being a mother has taught me that no matter what, you cannot give up.

I hope that one day, through family reunion, we will be back together again. Even if that day isn’t today, I live in the hope that one day will come.

Carrying this pain alone is so hard, too hard. Please hear me and see me. Share my love and share my pain. Support refugee women. We are all mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. We all have somebody to love.

Loraine is a Trustee of Women for Refugee Women, a published poet, and a powerful campaigner for refugee and human rights. Read her poem, Single Grand, written for her baby granddaughter here.

Read other stories from refugee women on their experiences of motherhood; read Sara’s story here or a poem by a member of our network here.

Support refugee women this Mother’s Day. Click here to make a difference.