Mom, we’ve been through a lot, but I want you to know why I am so strong

To: Mom

From: Telina (As told to Lauren Brill)

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Dear mom, 

Mom, I want you to know how I became so strong because, as you know, we haven’t had it easy.  Health problems have run rampant in our family. 

When I was three four years old, still shorter than the height of the bed, I remember watching you have a seizure for the first time. Lying on the bed, your hands stretched out towards me as they tensed up I didn’t know what to do.  I was terrified. But soon after, I learned how to help you: Turn you on your side, make sure you don’t bite your tongue and put a pillow underneath your head. 

You are epileptic. It runs in our family. While you couldn’t work and often struggled with this debilitating condition, it never stopped you from taking care of me and my two sisters. It never stopped you from being our mom. While dad worked, you stayed home and cleaned the house. You got us ready for school and then would walk us to school or to the bus stop. When we came home, you encouraged us to play outside. Some of my favorite memories include playing hide and seek outside with you and dad.  We’d hide in the bushes, while you came looking for us. 

Mom, you were the one to always find a reason to smile and to always make us laugh. 

 Mom, you were the one to always find a reason to smile and to always make us laugh.

As we got older, life got even harder for us. When I was in college, dad’s aorta burst and he died right in front of all of us. We were all absolutely devastated. Besides being our father, he was your husband for 18 year and  the love of your life. To make matters worse, he was also the breadwinner for our family. Despite the immense emotional pain, you fought through it for us. You found us a place to live and continued to put us first and take care of us.

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Watching you take the lead in our family during such a low time in our lives gave me the utmost respect for you. I know it wasn’t easy and I know how badly you were hurting, but you never missed a moment of our lives continuing to show up for every milestone and be there for the day-to-day challenges.

Telling (right) with her mother

As a family we bounced back, and you eventually remarried. But then, my health took a scary turn. One night I started to get very nauseous. I thought I had the stomach flu, but when I began losing my vision and I couldn’t speak, I knew it was more serious. At 24 years old, I was having a stroke. For a portion of time, I blacked out, but when I eventually regained consciousness all I remember is you holding my hand. In that moment, I was so scared but also so comforted by your presence. 

While it was a horrible experience, it was yet another event our family survived. 

Today, I am very independent. I don’t rely on anyone to take care of me. I have dreams and goals that I am actively pursuing, and I am not afraid of what life could possibly throw at me next. 

And that’s because of you. 

A mother’s love is special, particularly yours. Your love is unconditional and unwavering. To this day, you still ask me to text you to let you know I made it home safely. You are more than my best friend, but you are the reason I am strong.  That’s because no matter what we’ve faced, no matter how tough its been, we’ve always made it through together. 

I love you mom. And I am proud to be your daughter. 

Happy Mother’s Day, 

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Lauren Grace

The stars, that nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps with everlasting oil, give due light to the misled and lonely traveler