An Open Letter To The Strongest Woman I Know, Who I'm Proud To Call Mom

An Open Letter To The Strongest Woman I Know, Who I'm Proud To Call Mom

You were stubborn and refused to give up, thank you, mom, for not giving up.

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Dear mom,

It wasn't easy watching you lose your hair or be on bed rest, in fact, it was terrifying. I almost my mother, my best friend, and my everything.

I was young when you got diagnosed, a freshman in high school, barely a teenager. When I found out you were diagnosed I had to mature and prepare myself to take care of you. People seemed to flee when they found out as if it were contagious.

My heart broke when I seen you come home from the hospital after your first surgery, you looked exhausted and pained. I wanted to help and be by your side through it all. Your battle now became mine too. I promised myself no matter how hard things got I would be there for you.

When you had your first chemo treatment I went, I missed school to sit and keep you company for eight hours. I watched you have medicine pumped in you, this was the start of your healing but little did we know things would be harder than expected. I remember one time getting out of school and walking up to the cancer center and visiting you while you were getting chemo.

I remember so many awful yet beautiful moments we shared through your journey.

You picked me up from school one day, your hair was gone and you were bald, It took everything in me not to cry but I just smiled and told you, "you look beautiful" but in reality, it was awful what chemo was doing to you. You were forgetting things, you couldn't walk and you could barely eat. I wanted to give up, but it wasn't me suffering, it was you, and I knew I needed to be strong. I took care of you during the day, and when you were asleep I'd kiss your head and head off to bed to weep in fear of losing you.

We were driving in the car once and I remember you crying because you thought you were going to die, I felt that mom, my heart hurt and I wanted to tell you that everything was going to be okay but I was starting to believe it wasn't. I tried to comfort you but it was hard.

As you finished chemo and went through radiation, your health started to decline rapidly, I tried to prepare myself for what I thought was going to happen, but it didn't. You were stubborn and refused to give up, thank you, mom, for not giving up.

I took care of the kids through your journey, from cooking to helping them with their homework. I felt like a mom but it's what they needed, they were young and didn't understand what was happening.

I tried to be the best sister I could, and when your cancer came back in 2018 I didn't want to go to college, I just wanted to stay home, work and take care of you. It was hard leaving for college, I feared no one would take care of you as I would, the thought of losing my mother and my best friend constantly lingers in the back of my mind.

I've learned from all of this to never take life for granted or family, especially you. You are strong and beautiful, I've never loved someone more than I love you, thank you mom, a million times thank you...

"You are a survivor, though your journey isn't over I know with strength and faith you'll make it" (Philippians 4:13).

Love,

Your proud daughter

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Happy Father's Day To My Single Mother

You are the strongest woman I have ever met.
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Being a single mother is probably the most challenging job in the whole world.

You did not want it, ask for it, or even plan for it to be this way.

But you are doing the most phenomenal job imaginable.

The day we lost Dad was the day you took on a whole different role in life, even if you didn't realize it at first. You became Mom and Dad. You do an amazing job being both parents and I will always be more grateful than you will ever know. While I will be celebrating and thinking about Dad on Sunday, June 19, 2016, I will be celebrating you.

But enough about the depressing stuff; let's get to the happy, celebrating part.

You are not only my mom, you are the most strong, dedicated, courageous and amazing woman I have ever met in my life. You hear about heroes every day on TV but the world needs to recognize heroes like you. You "save the world" for my sister and I every single day and do not receive any form of recognition or medal, just a hug or poorly made cards. Without you, I do not know where I would be in my life. I know being a mother is your "job" and you "have" to do it, but that isn't really the case. Many mothers, not to mention, SINGLE mothers, can give up and abandon their kids. You could have and didn't. "Giving up" has never been a part of your vocabulary. I have seen you sad and discouraged many times in my life, but I have never heard you say "I give up." You have never been close to giving up. Even if you felt you were close, you never showed it.

Having a purpose in life like being a mother is absolutely incredible. I really hope I am able to be half the woman you are because that would still be more than enough. You have taught me how to be proud, independent and to stay humble. You have no issue putting me in my place no matter how old I am and I appreciate that. All I see is kids my age and even as young as 10 walking all over their parents and doing whatever they want without a single regard to their parents. I honestly appreciate all of the times you wouldn't let me go somewhere or do something growing up. Even now, you have no issue telling me when I may be pushing limits I shouldn't be pushing. That means a lot to me because you are most of the time my voice of reason. I know some parents of people my age who don't really steer them in the right direction. They figure that we are all 20 years old and can do whatever we want. That may be true, but is that the best idea? Probably not.

I know I don't say this enough, but I really am grateful for you. You are my best friend and partner and crime when it comes down to it. You always have my back and are in my corner even if I put myself in a sticky situation. You always lecture me if you have to, then help me through the situation and make sure I never get myself there again.

My favorite thing you have always said to me is, "I will never be mad at you. Maybe hurt, upset, or disappointed. But not mad." Trust me, that has made a lot of situations easier.

You are my mommy, teacher, therapist, best friend, partner in crime, cook, maid, personal shopper, and hero.

It's really hard for me to explain how amazing you are and all of the amazing things you do, but it is so hard when you do so many things that may seem ordinary to most, but extraordinary to me. Being a single mom probably isn't easy and I hope I never have to do it. But if fate makes it out that way, I know I will be able to. Because you have taught me so much in 20 years, I can't even begin to imagine what you will teach me in the future years to come.

When the day comes that I am a mom, I know I will have you right behind me helping me through it every step of the way.

On Father's Day I will be remembering and celebrating Dad, but I will also be celebrating you for your amazing job as a single mother taking on both roles. You have done both roles so well, I cannot distinguish what Dads "do" and what Moms "do."

You have gotten my sister and I through the hardest years of our lives alone. I am half way through college and Casaundra is on the dance team heading into high school. You pushed us and never gave up on us. You did all of that alone as a single mom and I cannot even wrap my brain around how you have done this with so much grace.

The haters are going to keep hating, the judgers will keep judging. But you are unbreakable. As Dad always said, "you can bend steel, but can't break it."

Happy Father's Day, Mom. I love you more than you will ever know.

Thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Kayla DiSalvatore

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To My Beautiful Mother, Thank You For Everything

Here's the best "Thank You" I can put into words.

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Today was not my day.

We were in the middle of a CVS and I started crying because I saw this Mike Wazowksi stuffed animal, and it reminded me of how fast I'm growing up. It was really, really stupid. You gave me your sunglasses to cover my blotchy eyes and told me to pretend we were at the pharmacy because I had an eye infection. I was sniffling and wearing these ridiculously oversized sunglasses (because sometimes you dress like an honest-to-god celebrity), and all the pharmacists and the people in line looked at us like we were insane. You didn't care. We drove around for a bit in your brand new car and you told me that there are just days like this and that I was going to be okay.

Later tonight, I went out for some fresh air. You picked me up in your pajama pants. I could tell that you were really tired. From the kitchen now, I can see the edge of your socks on our Michigan blanket. You were watching your lawyer show and you fell asleep on the couch again. Thanks for picking me up.

Dad says that when we were still living in that two-flat on Carmen, you liked to play Van Morrison and dance around in circles with me. "Into The Mystic" was our favorite one. To this day, I still love when I hear Van sing, "We were born before the wind." and when I'm away at school and they play"Brown-Eyed Girl" at the bar, I always think of our old house.

It used to be just me, you, dad, and a black lab. I was your first kid, and you and dad were barely 30 when I was born. You are both tan and happy in our first family photos. I like to think that the two of you were pretty excited to have me. I remember when dad painted The Cow Jumped Over The Moon on the far wall of my bedroom. There would be this big, bright-yellow saucer moon, and a smiling spoon holding hands with a dish waiting for me when I came home. I know that you wanted me to be a happy kid from the very first day. You dressed me like a chubby little corn on the cob for my first Halloween.

You watched "Monsters Inc." with me on the couch almost every night, and I know you got tired of it. You walked me around the neighborhood with stroller shaped like a little red car and we were the coolest chicks on the block. I lost my favorite stuffed animal, this spotted little dog, and we searched together for hours. You even helped me make "MISSING" posters and post them around the neighborhood, in case I left him at the park or playing outside. You brushed out my curls every morning before school even when I screamed and cried and fought you. You drove me to violin practice on Tuesday nights and let me play my Taylor Swift CD's on the way there, as long as you could listen to your music on the way back. One year you even took me to see her in concert at the Allstate Arena. You bought me a Taylor Swift poster, and we watched her music videos together on the home computer. You worked hard so I could have a good childhood.

You opened your own law practice and saved up money so I could go to this fancy, private school in the West Loop. The people there were different than me. They dressed differently and talked in a different way than I'd grown up with. To be crass, the majority of them had lots of money- and they acted like it. So, what did you do? You busted your ass off, and in addition to paying what was essentially college tuition, you took me shopping at Vineyard Vines so I could fit in with the kids at school. That was almost too nice of you. Like, maybe you should have just told me to shut up, wear the clothes I had already, and deal with it. You're too giving for that.

During the winter when the days were hard and everything just felt crappy, I took the Taylor Street bus to your office after school. You always gave me money to go get Chipotle across the street. You cleared out the conference room so I could either nap or do homework. We drove home together from downtown and the traffic was always unbearable, but we talked about what was going on in our lives as we inched down the highway. On the days like those, I felt like you were my best and truest friend in the world.

You taught me to be down-to-earth, and that a glass of wine a day is good for the health.

You didn't bat an eye when I told you I wanted to major in journalism. You stayed up late with me one night when I was a little bit... "sick", and ran a marathon the next day. I watched you run a political campaign and win fair-and-square. You refused to play into the games of politics, and I watched you become a Cook County Judge because of how fair and genuine you are. You taught me that dark hair and red lipstick will never go out of style. You taught me that a clean house is essential for peace of mind. You told me to never go to bed mad at someone I love.

So mother, as I reflect on the day we went through together today, I want you to know that the way you care for me will never go unnoticed. You are a kickass, professional woman, but also a pretty fun lady to be around. Thanks for your wisdom.

Thanks for everything.

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