• For the Love of a Child: A Story of Flowers and Falls

    Dear Poppyflower,

    If you were born under different stars, I would have never thought to write this letter to you. These words here are for you and for you alone. They are for your love, for your trust, and for your care and understanding. You are a gift to me and my universe, dear Poppy, and in this letter you will find a narrative of our family history, lessons on legacy, and personal testaments on where paths of resiliency, curiosity, and unbelievable strength can lead. It is my goal to be transparent with you. As I made my own choices, so too, you will have to make your own choices, including whether or not to accept me as your parent. I would hope that you would love me, dear child, but I am only just learning about love, and still I have so much more to learn about it.

    In order to understand me, dearest Poppy, you must first understand my parents. Once upon a time, I was a child in foster care. My parents were addicted to opioids and so, I inherited my own opioid addiction from them. I remember the outstretched hands of my parents bearing the white pills. “Take them,” Mother would say. “They will make the pain and grief go away.” When I was addicted, I would not have noticed if the planets stopped moving. When I was addicted, I was a lost child looking for love but you, dear child, would never have to do anything to earn your love from me. For you, I have broken the cycle of addiction.

    When I was sixteen and still a homeless youth in foster care, I walked twelve miles to sign myself up for high school as an unaccompanied minor. I then graduated with high honors and made my way to college to study plant sciences. As a first generation college student, I made waves for our family. We turned sea foam to stardust and sailed toward success despite all the challenges churning beneath the ocean. Instead of giving into despair, Poppy, you too, can persevere and chart your journey. Even if adversity surrounds you, your aura can glow brighter than the Northern Lights.

    At the age of fourteen, I made an attempt on my life for the first time. When I was in my early 20’s, three more attempts followed, eventually leading me to a three-day Baker Act and a two-week hospitalization in a crisis stabilization unit, where I was diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety, and paranoid schizophrenia. Mother was Baker Acted and schizophrenic too, and I remember being so scared when Mother said the angels were telling her to jump out of the window. I sometimes hear the angels too, and if you inherit this disability, my love, I would hope that you would allow me to help you.

    When I was born, Mother said I was as beautiful as a flower and so, she named me Jasmyne. When you were born, I named you for the flower that was both my hurt and my hope. Such an intensely debilitating disease is born from a drug that is born from a dreamy and innocent flower. I named you after the poppy flower because there is beauty in our brokenness, as well as light in even our darkest inheritance, and the existence of such duality makes life meaningful.

    They say a child’s love is unconditional. They say to have a child’s love would fill the void our parents left in our hearts. Life is about choices, dearest Poppy, and whether or not you choose to love me, is a choice only for you. Your life is a gift to me, and in you, I see myself and someone new. I see the future and a new inheritance unfolding before my eyes. In return, I give you agency and autonomy. For all the lovelessness I have experienced, I would give you a choice: to love me or not to love me. You cannot fill the void in my heart, dear child, but I can fill you with all that I have learned and all that I am still learning. For one thing, I have learned that if I die, my experiences and my knowledge die with me. I must live, not only for myself, but for all I have to offer you. I have to live for the love of my child.

    For the love of my child, I would do better for you than my parents did for me. For the love of you, my child, I would stand up to my parents and tell them that abuse is not love. For your love, I would like you to know that you should feel safe wherever you go, and if someone makes you feel unsafe, including me, you should run away and never look back.

    For the love of my child, I would swallow all the winds in a single breath, as many atoms and molecules of fresh air as was in the pills once consumed in my body, as if that could somehow make up for being another chain in the link of a legacy that involves substance abuse and mental illness.

    For the love of a child, I would pick flowers in fields of white, gold, and pink, and I would dance under the sky that we share until my feet slip on the dewy grass and I fall harder than I would have ever thought possible. Love is worth all the while that we wait in our brokenness for the beauty of our dreams to finally blossom, like a flower in bloom.

    Only you get to choose who you become, and sweet Poppy, I know that you would become someone special, with or without me. I love you Poppyflower, for now and for always.

    I hope that one day, you will love me too.


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