Phoenixes

Madeline - Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
Entered on January 20, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family

I believe that conflicts have a greater meaning, or a hidden value that can only be found when you’re looking for it. Between the ages of 5 and 7, most children are dependent on their mothers for a variety of things. But, starting when I was five years old, I had no mother. Mine was in the hospital, and tubes dug into almost every part of her body. I have few memories of that year that don’t include her hospital room, the doctors who’d shake my sister ‘s and my hands, the red and blue slushies in the cafeteria. First, the doctors said she wouldn’t be able to walk again. And yet, she walked. Then, after she contracted meningitis, they said she might not live. And yet, she’s alive today. Then, they said she wouldn’t be able to carry a child again, in her womb, or in her arms. And that is how this story begins.

8 years ago this April, a baby boy was born in Guatemala to a young woman, about 19 years old, who had 3 children and could not support another one. At about the same time, my parents called my older sister and I into our living room for a family meeting, and we listened intently to what they were about to say, not knowing what to expect. “How would you two feel about a younger brother or sister?” they asked, holding hands, smiles spreading across their faces. Immediately, we screamed and danced around, ecstatic about the possible expansion of our family. The adoption process was long, and it took us five months to find him, but the minute we saw the picture, a little baby smiling to us from hundreds of miles away, we knew he was ours. Details were finalized, tickets were purchased, and then, September 11, 2001 happened. Everything stopped, and it looked as though it would take at least another year until John would come home, but, by some insane strike of luck, my father made it into the American Embassy in Guatemala and, three weeks later, we got the call. It was the first and only time I’ve ever cried tears of joy.

Watching my mother hold my brother for the first time was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. He was tired and had been crying after the long flight home, but he stopped the minute she whispered in his ear and held him close to her. All those years that I wasn’t carried by my mom, held in her arms, were erased. I find it hard to think of what our lives would be like without my little brother, and I find it difficult to imagine what type of person I would be. If my mother hadn’t broken a part of her spine that day so many years ago, and if our family hadn’t endured so much pain, the happiness that we experience today wouldn’t exist. I don’t know what you call it, but I believe that things in life do indeed have a meaning, a reason, no matter how tough and horrible they may seem. I believe in fate, in the love of a family, and the strength to rise up from the ashes.