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Matilda and Two of Us

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It’s undeniable that Louis and Harry have matching lyrics; they’re essentially speaking to each other through their songs.  What may be less noticeable is that some of their songs are meant to “speak” to their fans by giving them messages like hope and strength in the midst of life’s tragic circumstances.  This is evident in two of their most emotional ballads that dedicate personal feelings of inspiration and admiration.

Two of Us

Louis Tomlinson wrote Two of Us to honor his mother, Johanna Deakin, who passed away on December 7, 2016, after an unfortunate battle with leukemia.  She was only 43.

When asked about the song, Louis said, “People say writing is a part of therapy and in a way, I feel like I’d been avoiding writing this song because I knew I only had one chance to get it right. I don’t mean to be too soppy about it, but if ‘Two of Us’ can help just one other person who’s going through the tough time that I went through, then that would make me really happy.”

I hope he knows that he should be ecstatic.  Through his song, he’s showing us that he’s keeping his mother alive in his heart, in how he lives, and in his recognition that she will always be with him for the rest of his life.  By giving us a glimpse of how he was affected by such a tremendous loss and how he turned his grief into hope, he ultimately gives us hope and strength to do the same.  

I can’t imagine the number of lives that have been touched by Two of Us.  What I do know is that one of them is mine.

July 2023 came with the gut-wrenching recognition that my dad “hasn’t physically been here” for exactly half of my life. I don’t like using the term “gone” because I know he isn’t.  Two of Us hits home for me in this aspect, especially because I interpreted and connected the lyrics to how I have always thought that I was living both by my dad’s presence and for his absence (one life for the two of us).

My dad was taken too suddenly, too unexpectedly, too soon…and ever since that day, life has been a daily bittersweet balancing act of feeling his presence but noticing his absence.  I think this is captured beautifully in Two of Us.  Needless to say, I listened to the song on repeat the entire day of the anniversary of my dad’s death.  The melody is a soothing combination of piano, strings, and drums and the lyrics couldn’t be more powerful.  The entire song impeccably treads the line between sorrowful and joyful – and I was shedding tears of both of these feelings.

In an interview with Radio 1 Newsbeat, Louis said, “I used to lean on my mum for a lot of things – anytime I needed advice on something she would be the first call I made.”

Calling his mom like he has done so many times in the past, hearing her voice, and leaving her a message provides him with a sense of closeness with her.  This also can signify that he still needs her in his life.  Even though she won’t respond, he feels as though his message is almost like a conversation/interaction with her, which makes him feel like he isn’t alone. “It’s been a minute” seems to give the impression that he does this often.

The first two lines can be interpreted in different ways, but I feel it means that since his mom is present in his memories, “he wakes up dreaming” because it feels like she didn’t pass away.  Then the realization hits and he’s snapped back into reality.  That happened many times for me when my dad first passed…it’s not a dream, it’s a nightmare.

It’s heartbreaking to hear Louis say that he wishes he was the one that passed away instead of his mom.  He misses her and loves her so much that he doesn’t want to live without her and he’d rather take her place.  Along the same lines…I don’t know if Louis felt this way, but when my dad first passed I sometimes felt guilty for laughing, having fun, etc. because he couldn’t, and I also felt guilty for just being alive, because he wasn’t.

Louis is letting us in on a personal conversation that he had with his mom, who has told him to take everything one day at a time (this more than likely includes dealing with grief) and to keep pushing through no matter how hard it gets.

To me, I believe Louis and his mom are both referring to each other as diamonds.  Diamond is the hardest naturally occurring substance and most scratch-resistant material on earth. They also don’t fade in brilliance or beauty.  Louis will never be broken down and will always shine; his mom and her loveliness will live on forever.

Louis will forever have and will forever keep his mom with him. From the most insignificant moments to life changing times, Louis’ mom is with him constantly now, and I believe he finds comfort in that.  She will be right beside him every step of the way and he will be his best self because of it.  By her presence and guidance, he is living one life for both of them.

The same sentiment is echoed here – Louis feels his mom’s presence and sees her in himself.  He also seems to possibly have a dual meaning in the last line.  Louis can see his mom when he looks in the mirror, but it can also be interpreted as almost a foreshadowing that when it’s his time to go he will see his mom again; until then, she will be waiting.

Whenever I’m trying to comfort someone that has lost a parent, I tell them to try to always remember that “you are part of their legacy and you keep them alive by living like they did” and to “try your best to be what you love and miss most about the person that you lost.”  Whether you miss their kindness or their humor or their happiness…be that: kind, funny, happy.  You will be living your life while also living their life for them.

This is a strong and poignant ending from Louis.  It feels like he is saying that it was just he and his mom in the beginning because of his parents’ separation when he was a toddler…and that’s how it will end.  Louis will hold his mom in his heart, partially filling the void of the big piece that went with his mom on the day she passed…and by her presence and for her absence, Louis will always be living one life for the two of them.  

When asked about Two of Us in an interview with Radio 1 Newsbeat, Louis said, “I’m quite a positive person but there’s no two ways about it – it’s sad what happened to me.”  He continued, “I don’t want people to get caught up in the sadness of it.  The song should be hopeful.”  Thank you, Louis, for helping me remember that even though my dad hasn’t been here for half of my life, I will be living one life for both of us.  This gives me the hope, strength, and courage needed in the midst of the grief that still tends to creep into everyday life.  I know your mom is proud of how many lives you’ve positively influenced by your personality, your music, and the stunning song you’ve written in her honor.

Louis was once asked how he thought his mom would’ve reacted to Two of Us.  “She would have loved it, she was a fan of ballads,” he said.  Don’t forget Louis, she’s living through you.  She loves it.


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