This I Believe

Summer - Holiday, Florida
Entered on May 13, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

This Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death. It hurts but I believe in getting up and brushing yourself off.

I never had a good relationship with my mother. After lung-cancer claimed the life of my grandmother in 1996, things didn’t get better. My mother covered her grief with alcohol and shallow pleasures. She never got over her mother’s death and in turn, began her own demise.

For years I tried in vain to get over my grandmothers death and to raise my mother at the same time. Because tears were seen as weakness in my home, I bottled up my feelings, got off my knees and brushed my self off.

After burying my grandmother’s memory deep in my mind, I began the daunting task of helping someone who didn’t want to help themselves. When dealing with someone whose words and actions are incredibly unpredictable, one learns to roll with the punches. I took each insult and each bruise and swallowed them deep within myself where no one outside me could find them. I continued to offer love and assistance to my mother even though she threw them back at me. And when they hit me, I got up and brushed myself off.

After my thirteenth birthday, I felt about thirty. I had more life experience than anyone I knew. I felt different than my friends and more mature than some adults I knew. One day, after returning from a visit with my family in New Jersey, I found that my mother had opened our home to people who shared her interests and hobbies. I decided then and there I would not take anything more from her. I woke one day and announced to her, in her normal drunken stupor, that I was leaving. The words that followed knocked me lower than I had ever fallen before, but I got up and brushed myself off.

Since that fateful day, I have gone through legal red tape in an effort to get out from under my mothers thumb and lived with friends of mine whose parents loved them and had love to spare. On May 5th last year, I received word my mother was in the hospital dieing from liver failure. It hit me that day that I couldn’t have done much for her, because she didn’t want to be helped. The addictions she had fed her entire life were killing her. I sent a message to her saying I forgave her, but I didn’t visit. That night, I got up, brushed myself off, fixed my eyeliner and went to prom.

Less than two weeks later, her body shut down in response to her liver giving up. My mother never got off the ground after her mother died. I vowed to never follow her example. I still have issues concerning the death of my grandmother and the abuse I endured from my mother, but I am dealing with them. I believe in getting up and brushing yourself off.