The 2016 death of Louis Tomlinson's mother has inspired the first single off his debut album
Louis Tomlinson‘s mother may be gone, but her memory is still living on in his heart and his music.
The One Direction alum, 27, paid tribute to his late mother Johannah Deakin in “Two of Us” — the first single off his highly anticipated debut album.
Released Thursday, the song is a deeply personal and emotional pop ballad about the bond the two have, even after her death.
It begins by Tomlinson addressing Deakin directly, admitting that the day she died he wished “it was me instead.” However after mourning her loss, Tomlinson began to take the lessons he learned from her and focus on the positives.
“I will keep you day and night, here until the day I die / I’ll be living, one life for the two of us,” he sings, in the chorus. “I will be best of me, always keep you next to me / I’ll be living one life for the two of us.”
‘Even when I’m on my own / I know I won’t be alone,” Tomlinson adds. “I know you’ll be looking down / Swear I’m gonna make you proud.”
In a statement, Tomlinson said that addressing Deakin’s death in his music was both inevitable and relieving.
“I just feel like musically, I almost needed to get this song off my chest,” Tomlinson explained. “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.”
Ultimately, Tomlinson hoped that others dealing with loss would feel comfort from the track. “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,” he said.
After its release, Tomlinson thanked his fans on Twitter for embracing the song. “Your support means the world and has made all of this possible,” Tomlinson wrote. “Never forget we’re a team! Massive love to you all.”
He also gave an interview to the UK’s Metro, where he said that his mother would have supported the tune.
“She would have loved it, she was a fan of ballads,” said Louis. “My mum wasn’t about feeling sorry for herself. Again that’s what gives me pride and comfort singing the chorus. It feels really liberating.”
Speaking to the BBC, Tomlinson said the toughest part was playing the song for his sisters because he “didn’t want them to get caught up in the sadness.” Taking on the responsibility of looking after the girls is something he told the outlet helped him deal with his grief.
Deakin died after a battle with leukemia on Dec. 7, 2016. She was 43.
“It is with immeasurable sadness that Johannah Deakin’s family said goodbye to Johannah ” the family said in a statement at the time. “Earlier this year Johannah was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia that required immediate and continuous treatment. We respectfully request that the family are given time and space to grieve in private.”
Her husband, Dan Deakin, also gave a statement.
“Johannah was first and foremost a truly amazing mother to seven children – Louis, Lottie, Félicité, and two sets of twins, Phoebe and Daisy and Ernest and Doris — whose individual talents and success are testament to the principles and beliefs she instilled in them,” he said. “She was also an incredibly proud grandmother to [Louis’ son] Freddie.”
“Incredibly selfless, she would always look to put other people before herself,” Dan continued. “She desired nothing more than for everyone around her to be happy and loving. She worked tirelessly on numerous charity campaigns, creating memories for many individuals and their families. It wasn’t uncommon for Johannah to hear through the media of an individual in need of assistance, and she would immediately make it her objective to get that person what they often desperately needed, and rarely without success. These are the things that made Johannah happy and content in life, and all of which for me made her simply the perfect wife and best friend to face each day with. I thoroughly loved walking through life with her, and though five years was far too short a time, during that time we had so many lifetimes worth of happiness, adventures, and memories.”
“We would like to send our sincere thanks to Professor Steve Mackinnon and his team at University College London Hospital where Johannah was hospitalized since May,” he said. “And during the last few weeks Professor John Snowden and his colleagues at Royal Hallamshire Hospital Sheffield.”
After her death, Tomlinson returned to The X-Factor — the show that made him a star with his One Direction bandmates — to launch his solo career with his single, “Just Hold On.”
According to a source, Deakin, a midwife, had been looking forward to Tomlinson’s appearance on the X-Factor stage — and told PEOPLE that Tomlinson decided to proceed with the appearance in her honor.
“Just Hold On” also had lyrics poignant to Tomlinson’s loss.
“Oh until it’s all been said, it’s not over until your dying breath,” Tomlinson sang. “So what do you want them to say when you’re gone? That you gave up or that you kept going on? What do you do when a chapter ends? Do you close the book and never read it again?”
“Where do you go when your story’s done,” he continued. “You can be who you want or who you’ll become. Oh if it all goes wrong, oh darling just hold on. The sun goes down and it comes back up. The world still turns no matter what.”
After his performance, Tomlinson kissed his fingers and looked up to the sky.