Depression. Alcoholism. Divorce. Drug abuse. Suicide. Childhood.
My upbringing wasn’t exactly idyllic.
Hard as my mother tried to shield me from the reality of our father’s drinking and his suicide, along with the subsequent depression and drug abuse of my teenage sister, there were hard realities I had to face at a very young age.
As a single mother, my mom worked to provide for our family, and it was physically impossible for her to keep a constant guard. As a result, I witnessed things she never wanted me to see but – as a single person with limited family support – she could not prevent.
Between the sunny days of playing outside with my brother, there were horrifying nights of my sister overdosing and running away from home.
By 8 years old, I had seen people snort cocaine and had watched my sister’s lips turn blue as her body curled against the tile of our bathroom floor. That same night, I sat in the emergency room while my sister had her stomach pumped. In the years that followed, I rode with my mother as she ferried her to and from therapy appointments, and checked her in and out of rehab.
My roots are a tangle of tragedy and its ramifications. But each strand of hardship is intertwined with the unrelenting love of my mother.
She stood courageously through my sister’s depression and substance abuse, never giving up on her girl. Or forgetting the one in the seat beside her.
From our Saturday mornings together to countless conversations about school and friends, she never treated me as an additional burden. She sacrificed her personal time in order to learn about my interests, and didn’t trivialize my petty teenage drama.
I learned how to love from her unwavering commitment to our family, and her tenacity taught me how to be brave and fight for my future, no matter the obstacles.
Now a mother myself, I have no idea how she did it – how she raised three children on her own after such a horrific event.
If you ask her, she says, “because I had no other choice.” That may speak to the strength that somehow got her through.
But all I know is that she’s incredible.
Whoever’s reading this, I know your mom’s probably awesome. Maybe she hosted fantastic birthday parties, baked a million cookies (though I doubt they could top my mom’s chocolate chips), or raised up a dozen babies that weren’t her own.
But I know my mom ranks supreme – because she’s mine – because she fought for us – and because she still fights for us today.
Thank you mama, for my roots, my wings, and providing the example of love that continues to carry me through every storm.