“Made to Endure what Life throws at You”
8 days before your 8th birthday, you will become a big sister to your future best friend. In the meantime, he is more like your real live baby doll and little brother. I must be honest with you; this joy will soon disappear, and you will go through many trials and tribulations. I promise, that life gets better, and your perseverance allows you to excel in everything you set your mind to do.
Shortly after your brother is born, you will be awakened to yelling and screaming. It’s late at night or early morning and you open your door to see what all the commotion is. Upon opening the door, you pause and start to cry uncontrollably at the sight of your mother surrounded by Two (2) policemen placing handcuffs on your mother. This will be the first time your asthma is triggered by stress, and you will later develop stress-induced asthma.
As you grow older you will understand your mom lost her temper again with your father. Papi will not be able to handle the toxic relationship and will be leaving back to Puerto Rico, leaving you, your sister, and your brother behind. As you grow older, you understand Papi did what was best for him because he could not be near Mami.
It is hard for you to comprehend why your family is the way it is, and you don’t have a mother like the mothers you read in your books. You wish you had a family like the books you devour daily or the Disney movies you grow up watching. Regardless of your ignorance, you know your siblings need their big sister when Mami is unwell.
Naturally, you love to nurture, so you step into the role of a surrogate parent. Just so you understand, a surrogate parent is sometimes just a child who must manage household logistics and make difficult decisions for siblings, all while dealing with their own needs in life. You don’t know it yet, but you are growing up with a mentally ill parent. You just know, you need to be there for your siblings because of Mami’s inability to cope with being a single parent. The worst thing about growing up with a mentally ill parent is the unpredictability. I don’t know if Mami remembers how life was for my siblings and me growing up, or if she has blocked the memories out because they are unpleasant to remember. I do remember. I remember when she would leave my sibling and me home alone several times for hours when she was upset. As you stay huddled scared with your siblings, you are anxious in fear wondering if she will ever come back because she would constantly threaten to leave and never come back. There is a silver lining, she does return every time and unfortunately acts like the traumatic events never occurred.
Despite Mami’s attempts to remain employed, she loses many jobs. Mami later becomes disabled and your role in the family becomes ever more critical. As the oldest, you feel it is your duty to become the pillar of strength. So, you start working at 15 to help the family financially. You will doubt yourself and wonder if you will be able to handle working and school. Nonetheless, you have a burning desire to become a lawyer so that you can be an advocate for others without a voice. The voice you wish you had to speak up for your siblings and yourself.
While still in high school, you will enroll in the local community college as a dual enrollment student to have flexible classes to work full time to help support the family. This is not an easy task. Life throws many more curve balls your way to attempt to knock you down. Bianca, you were made to endure what life throws at you.
Fast forward to the present day and guess what? You graduate from law school, and currently waiting for Bar Exam results. I may or may not pass, but I won’t let this test define me or my abilities. I end this letter with a quote from Finding Nemo by Dori, “Just Keep Swimming!” Life will get easier, don’t let the world around you dim your shine!
Keep your head up kiddo!
Your 32-year-old self
Oh my wow, Bianca! What an incredible person you are. You should be sooo proud of all your perseverance. And going to law school – that’s an amazing accomplishment, on no one can ever take away from you. I am sorry your childhood was filled with so much struggle, but your strength is inspiring to so many, including me. Whatever you do next, just know you have already won in life. <3Lauren
Bianca, You’ve been through so much. You are an inspiration to us all—your strength, courage and resilience is incredible. No one should underestimate you – because like all of us, you are a tough cookie. You’ve been through so much, but you’re just getting started. Stay strong and keep going. I’m so glad that you were able to have so much resilience and motivate me to be strong.
Great letter. How are you doing these days? I hope you have someone peace and can live joyfully.
I relate some to your story as I have MS and my son of 32 is my 2/7 caretaker, head cook and bottlewasher. He rises above anyone’s expectations every day and helps me though he suffers from migraines and depression himself.