*Note: as I was very young at the time, these statements may be frayed.
The day was chilled. I felt the cold wind bite and gnaw on my young cheeks as soon as I hopped out of my mother's caravan. She brought my brother and I to meet her best friend, Joanna. I was excited, of course; Mom told me that Joanna had four young kids and one of them was my age. As we walked inside, Joanna's face lit up when she saw my brother and I. I was happy, too. For some reason, I have a vivid memory of asking Jo for grits and her letting me go to town on some raw oatmeal instead, and I'm not sure if I dreamed it or not. I'd like to think it was true.
I decided to settle myself with some SpongeBob on the couch. Bob then went and attended to my baby brother, a fat little thing. If sumo wrestlers ever hired babies, he would be a good candidate. After twenty minutes with quality cartoons, Joanna and my mom came out of the guest room, and she left.
The strangers became my family. Joanna was now referred to as Mom, and Bob was Dad. I also had four new siblings. I never would have realized that this would happen until it happened to me. I was learning to be content. My mother's voice and love were a distant memory. Her name was as taboo as that funny looking villain in Harry Potter; it wasn't spoken, nor was she talked about. If she was ever talked about, it was always a scary story that came up every couple years or so. My mind would turn these stories into wonky tabloid headlines, too audacious to be true:
"Crazy Lady Steals Car While Intoxicated, Crashes It, Flees from the Scene".
"Where's the Child Support? More on This Story At 6:00".
"Iowa Woman Robs Texas Couple of Large Inheritance, Spends New Riches on God Knows What".
I always thought these stories were fake, until they weren't. It was safe to say my birth mother had turned into what I refer to as a full blown con artist. She would make friends with unsuspecting men and women across the country only to turn around and lie and steal from them. The reason she never visited us anymore was because she had fled the state due to an outstanding warrant. It was truly horrific and hard to wrap my head around. It was then that I realized I needed to stop waiting for a miracle and write her out of my life. I had enough here; I didn't need to go chasing after something that would never come true. I suddenly only had one mother, and I was grateful.
The day that changed my life was June 5th, 2017. The last thing I thought I would be doing was sobbing into my mom's arms. She drove all the way down from Minneapolis area to tell me that my birth mother killed herself. At first, shock ran over me. At this point, I didn't think of my birth mother as a motherly figure. She was more like the best friend you had in elementary school who ended up moving to New Hampshire in the 4th grade because her dad got a new job and a divorce. Then, suddenly, I started sobbing. I couldn't stop; it went on for a good two hours. I wanted to hate her, but I couldn't. She threw away her life, how could I have come to terms with that? Then I got angry. I had so many questions for her and she didn't even give me the chance to ask them. How could she? It got even worse when my mom said we needed to drive to San Antonio. She was found in a prairie near her current home after someone called it in. Going through that process was the worst experience of my life, and I hope that nobody ever goes through what I did.
I came out of the experience a dull shell. The grass looked gray, the food tasted bland, and my laughs were few. With time I healed, and I leaned on my amazing, supportive family and friends to get me through it because they were suffering with the loss, too. On her one year anniversary of her death, I said a silent prayer for her, looked at a few photos of her, and went on with my day. It doesn't hurt to do that anymore, and somehow, somewhere, there's still a sliver of me that wonders if she did the same for us.
Mental health shouldn't be something hard to talk about, nor should we be ashamed of it. We should be reaching out to help our loved ones, not throwing them away when we see one flaw. My mom ended up choosing to live her life as she did, but I know in my heart that she might still be here today if she was more willing to get the help she so desperately needed. I can't change the past, but I can mold my future to make sure that I am taking the right steps to make sure this doesn't happen to another family. Although I still have fear that this could happen to me due to genetics, I have a strong feeling that it won't. I have an amazing support system and a loving family, and I'm attending therapy and seeing a psychiatrist because if anyone could catch something that's up, it's them. I pave my own path, and it won't be hers.
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