This I Believe

Erin - Reston, Virginia
Entered on December 1, 2006

I believe that good things can come out of bad situations.

I’m 29 years old and in my lifetime I’ve come upon many trying situations. Though I am not particularly religious I do consider myself spiritual. In times of struggle I tend to lean on my spiritual beliefs in search of meaning and comfort. One of those beliefs is that unfortunate, hurtful, and sad situations can produce unexpectedly positive outcomes.

My mother and father divorced when I was 2. I lived with my mother until I was 8 years old. My mother, Mary, wanted very much to raise me as an independent woman. At a young age she sought my opinion on such things as what church we should attend, if any. She taught me to think and feel. When I was 5 she was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. Once she knew we didn’t have much time together I think she tried to pass on as many lessons as possible. One of those was the importance of fun and laughter. One night, about 15 minutes after she put me to bed, she came in and woke me up. “It’s snowing!” she declared. She got me up, put a snow suit on me, and took me sledding down the street. The next day she let me sleep in and took me to school late. I hope my teachers understood that we were trying to have the most fun in the short amount of time we had left. I lived with her as she struggled to deal with the physical pain and emotional trauma of chemotherapy, radiation, and the loss of control over her life. Her hair fell out, she was forced to work less, and her memory failed. She lost her battle with Cancer in 1986, she was 38 years old.

Losing my mother set off of a series of events in my life that can best be described as empty and unsettling. I moved many times and lived with different family members in search of another guardian. I don’t know that I ever really found one. In my 20s I acted in ways that disrespected myself and others. I accomplished very little. It took a while for me to pull myself together from all of the uncertainty I’d experienced.

As I approach 30 I recognize what I gained from this turmoil. I developed self-awareness and a sensitivity that sustain me today. I am independently minded and have faith in my ability to persevere. I advocate on behalf of myself and others. As it turns out, I am quite the woman my mother intended me to be. The 8 years we spent together, as well as her 21 we’ve spent apart made that possible. I believe that the best pieces of me are the result of the painful things I’ve experienced. I believe that good things can come out of bad situations.