It's Going to Be a Tough One, Kid

You'll be okay.

Your life is going to be a tough one. I wish that I could prepare you for it, but unfortunately, there is no real way to do that. You’re going to be a young one when your parents die, and you will live with your maternal grandmother from the time you are one year old until you are about ten years old. You will live there with her and your half-sister, who is 17 years older than you; you will have a few good times and even more terrible times, but you won’t even really remember most of your childhood once you get to be twenty two.

You see, your biological mom was a drug addict. Out of all the things you do not know and won’t know about her, the one thing you will always remember is that she had a drug problem. For all of your young life, you will hear your older sister talk about how awful your mother was, and other relatives will only talk about her drug habits and how she was never really able to care for or raise her kids, if they talk about her at all. I don’t know if you will ever hear anything that was actually good about her, but you will see old pictures and think about how she might’ve been. You’re going to think about how good of a mom you wish she could’ve been to you, and you will even miss her. It’s strange how that works—missing someone you don’t even remember. I told you that you were a young one when she died. You were one year, three months, and three days old when she passed away, and you will always remember that, too. December 24th, of 1996 (the day she died) will always be stuck in your head, and this is only one reason that the holidays will be rough sometimes, but we will talk about that later.

Memories

Some of the good things you will remember are things like playing outside on your swing set with your cousins when they come to visit, living down the street from the house where Harry S. Truman was born and getting to tour it, getting to paint each wall in your room a different color, and cuddling up to your grandma—who you will call mom—in the big, floral chair in the living room. One of your favorite memories will be laying in bed at night listening to audiobooks with her. You will forever find them soothing. For more reasons than one, your favorite holiday will be the Fourth of July. Fireworks will always tug at your heart as you think about the years you will have spent sitting on the swing with your mom, in the backyard of your great grandma’s house, watching the fireworks go off. These are memories that you will cling to and love.

Sadly, there will be worse things that will stick out in your mind. There will be so many things that you should never hear or see as a child, and I’m sorry you will have to deal with certain things later in life because of what is going to happen while you’re a kid. For a while, you will be scared of water because your sister will almost let you drown while not paying attention to you at the public pool. She will have a boyfriend who will beat her within an inch of her life, and you will have to watch that more than once. He will have a son who will touch you inappropriately because no one watches you two while you’re at their house, all because your sister wanted to “have a sleep over” at their house while your mom works nights and she has to babysit you. Your older sister fighting with your "mom" is a big one that will affect you, too. By fight, I mean screaming at her, hitting her, and one time you will hear a commotion in another room and you will peek out of the bedroom to see what is going on. You will see the woman you call mom, holding one of your sister's arms away from her because she has a large knife in her hand. You will notice that the knife is pointing towards your mom and you will scream and cry. Your sister will yell at you to go back into your room, but before you do, you will grab the phone and take it with you and call 911. The dispatcher will answer and you will tell her that your sister is trying to kill your mom and beg them to hurry. At this point, you aren’t going to know what to do, and that’s okay. Just know that you will be okay.

But How?

I know all of this because I am you. A twenty two year old you. I am here to tell you that there will be things that traumatize you and hurt you, things that make you scared, and things that will one day show you your strength and courage. You won’t understand why these things happen, and you’ll have some dark days because of them, but I promise you that in spite of everything you go through, you will be okay. 

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