To My Mother,
You tried for six years, tried to have a little one to call your own. You didn't give up after the biological pathways failed, you pushed onward. You were determined to share the love you felt in your heart with a child. So you and Dad put together a folder that held all your hopes for parenthood within it.
A young woman picked it out of piles and piles because of the family you both had to offer. Men and women that would later become known to me as "Aunt Krisha" and "Uncle Kerry." There was a tiny baby, a little fighter, born at 2 pounds and 2 ounces who was starving for a wonderful home to call her own. That woman was Annie, and that baby was me.
You didn't care that I was tiny like the New Yorkers did, you didn't care that there was a tiny hole in my heart. I was like a dream to you, a daughter of your very own. The dream was a bit rough around the edges, as your nights were spent taking turns with Dad walking my restless, crying form back to sleep.
I don't know if in those days you knew I'd get a 30 on my ACT, or get full tuition to college, or have a high IQ, or have creativity that baffles your mind. I know you hoped for great things, as all mothers do. But I also know you thought I would be slow, have troubles learning and adjusting to things.
So you read to me, and I took to it like a fish out of water. The pretty words fascinated me. The flashy sparkles of Dazzle the Dinosaur still some days dance in my head as I think back to you reading it to me. You often thought that was why I needed to be in the assisted reading in elementary school. But I just loved the time when you read with me, shared yourself with me. Especially after two smaller bundles came, after I begged you for a little brother. I was rewarded with two little sisters that began to take up your time.
I remember the first time that my heart broke, truly and fully. You told us you would stop smoking. It was while you were still working at the school, and it was July. I noticed you were going out to the front porch a lot, and one day I followed you to find you holding one of those dammed cigarettes in between your fingers.
I cried, because I knew they were one day going to steal you from me. I cried because you were my mommy and you promised to stop for us. I still cry sometimes when I think about what your addiction is doing to your lungs when I hear you cough and talk about your allergies.
I remember the first time I thought you were a superhero. It was a Labor Day party. I was sitting on the cooler and a family friend was teaching me to carve twigs into points. You were all having fun, laughing, talking, and drinking. The twins and my cousin Kaysie were playing with our cat, Oreo. A jump rope was serving as a make-shift leash on him as they walked him across our vast backyard. After a while one of your friends screams, pointing at one of the wooden play structures that often occupied my free time. There hung my beloved cat, my only pet, Oreo. Limp and hung like a man guilty of murder.
I ran upstairs in tears as you adults rushed to his aid. I sobbed on my bedroom floor, begging to the air that he would live, praying to God that he wouldn't take my pet. When I returned downstairs, he was curled up in the corner of our garage, his eyes wide and alert. Dad told me you did CPR until he started breathing again. You saved my pet, you were super.
You were my first friend. We used to ride razor scooters together outside on our sidewalk that looped around our house. You did it until Dad told you to stop, because you would hurt yourself. You taught me to tie a water balloon together and that leaving the rubber in the grass was bad for the environment.
You watched me blossom, from the young girl that needed aid in a reading class to the girl that sat glued to the TV. But I wasn't stuck on cartoons like other young children. I surfed the Discovery and Animal Planet channels, soaking up Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin's facts about all sorts of animals. I would then repeat those facts back to you and any other adult that would listen to me. This later transferred back to my studies where I started to excel. My uncanny ability to memorize facts playing a key role in it.
Then my questions started, they were always there, but the serious ones came. It was no longer "What does that tool do?" and "Why do you do that?", but rather, "Why didn't my birth mom want me?"
And you told me. You told me with all the poise and grace of a queen. She was young, only 18 years old. She knew she wouldn't be able to take care of me so she gave me to you. To you and Dad, who had jobs, a home, and a loving extended family. She loved me and that was why she gave me away, to have a better life.
I still look at this as one of the greatest life lessons you have ever taught me. I might be a brat sometimes, but you taught me to appreciate what I had. When I was in middle school, everyone revered certain children because they knew their parents had money based on how they acted. But I hung out with boys, boys who came from homes that were broken or less well off than we were. It wasn't until we reached high school that they learned you and Dad made good money, and I wanted for essentially nothing.
I was humble, and I still try to be. I try to take only what I need and not hold excess, because life could be completely different from what it is.
And then I drifted from you. You and Dad put my jeep's keys into my hands and I was gone. I was off working at Hy-Vee or playing Dungeons and Dragons with my friends. I spent weekends with Magic the Gathering cards in my hands, instead of with Dad working outside, as I had years before.
My nights were consumed by Speech practices, but you finally had something to watch me in. Something to actively support and promote other than my good grades. You attended conferences and home shows.
You stood besides me as I went through my college search, aiding me as you could, and being confused other times. You encouraged me to follow my heart when I had to decide between financial benefit or my heart's passions.
The small baby that you received at a mere 5 lbs. has grown up. I still do not know if you expected me to excel this well in my life. But I know you are proud. I know you are behind me in whatever I decide in my life path. You trust me well enough now to make my own choices and decisions.
You still make a weekly call, even though I only attend school an hour away, to make sure this is okay or that I got that thing done. As much as I get frustrated with those calls some days, they remind me that you're thinking of me. Even when life at home is glorified hell, you still have time to think about your little girl that's not so little anymore.
You love me. I know you do and that you always will. You do the things you do because you love me and always have. I know you love me just as much, if not more than you would love your own blood daughter, because I was your little gift, your little Miracle.
I think sometimes I forget to tell you that I love you. I might have learned lessons about life you're still working on, and that frustrates me, because I want you to understand them too. I want to help you with them, just like you helped me my entire life. I want to help make your life better so you are happy, just like you made sure I was happy.
At the end of the day, no matter how far, how smart, or how upset I am, I will always be your daughter. I will always love you for all the love and lessons you gave me. I will always smile when I see a Rainbow Fish or Dazzle the Dinosaur book. I will always think of you when I see purple.
I will always be your daughter, Mom. Never forget that I love you.