'I miss my mom a lot': A young man with autism writes a letter to his mother, a PSW who died of COVID-19

In the short film Love, Leymo, he tells his mom about his struggles and achievements since her passing

In the short film Love, Leymo, he tells his mom about his struggles and achievements since her passing

A young Black man wearing glasses sits on a couch looking back toward camera. There is a small reflection of his face in the foreground.
‘Nothing is back to normal for the people who lost loved ones,' says Leymo Mohammed, who lost his mother to COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. (Guevara Films)

On April 10, 2020, my mother, a personal support worker, was admitted to the hospital after contracting COVID-19. She later died in the ICU on May 7. I was devastated. I found myself alone in the world with my 13-year-old sister, not knowing what to do. 

This was during the lockdown and before any COVID vaccines existed. It was a scary and chaotic time, and I was in disbelief — I still am to this day. I know a lot of people think things are back to normal now and the pandemic is over. But they've got to understand that nothing is back to normal for the people who have lost loved ones.

In the short film Love, Leymo, I share my perspective about growing up as an autistic kid with my mom by my side to support me and advocate for me, and how that's all changed now that she's gone. But it's not just about my tragedy.

It's also about the things I've been thinking about lately. I'm not a kid anymore, and I have to support myself. So much has changed in the last couple of years. I write to my mother regularly to update her on everything that's been going on — the exciting things but also my challenges. I read one of those letters aloud in this documentary.

I miss my mom a lot. I wish I could talk to her about the things I'm going through. I have friends now that I can talk to who are supportive, but it's obviously not the same. My mom was the only person I could turn to whenever I needed support, and now that she's gone, it's really tough. Going to her funeral was especially hard, but I had to do it because it would be the last time I would see her. I thought it might give me some closure.

My mom was my champion for everything. She taught me to be proud of myself no matter what. So whenever I'm going through big life changes, like applying to college or trying to become a working actor, I write her a letter to update her about my achievements and struggles and dreams.

Whether I'm writing her about school stress, my excitement about the Wiggles, trying to understand the whole deal with dating girls, struggling with brutal actor self-tapes, or dealing with racism now that people see me as Black man (like, I actually have to shave my beard now), these letters help me understand a world that is complicated and sometimes cruel and unfair too. 

A young Black man wearing glasses stands holding a guitar, with a brick building and staircases behind him.
Leymo Mohammed was 17 years old when his mother passed away. In a letter to her, he updates her on his struggles, accomplishments, goals and the importance of his friends as he comes to understand the world around him. (Jalani Morgan)

I don't know. In some strange way, I feel like my mom is listening and still looking out for me. Because even though things have been tough, some really great things have been happening in my life too. 

I sometimes say this world is a crazy place because there's so much to take in, not all of it makes sense and it can be overwhelming. I think most people feel this way at some point, and I want the audience to know that we are connected by that feeling of uncertainty.

I am more than just my tragedy. I am more than just a person on the autism spectrum. I have thoughts and ideas about the world that I think people on and off the spectrum can relate to. I have different abilities, but in many ways I am the same. I hope the audience feels that as well after watching Love, Leymo.

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