Peer Review

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My North Star

Children are told that if they ever get lost they should look up to the sky and find the North Star; this star will shine bright and lead them back home. For me, this star was always my mom. Young, single, and a mom of two, she was the bright light that always made sure everything was taken care of. From school work to baton practice she was there for every moment, with a smile that made everyone around her feel as though she was their mom. Her petite frame and short brown hair made her seem like a teenager to most, but her independence and fierce mothering instincts were nothing to mess with. She was a force to be reckoned with, and someone I considered to be the bravest, most independent, and loving mother anyone could ask for in life. But in one moment our lives changed forever and I got to see a side of her that I never knew existed. Parents are something that most people take for granted, but when you witness them in the darkest moments of their lives you tend to appreciate them more every day. But even after all of the pain and tears this amazing woman regained her strength to become an even better mother and grandmother.

A single mom working endless hours to support her two daughters, living in a small town with little to no help, she managed to not only buy her first house without any assistance, but she did it all while working full time and not missing a beat in her home life. The neighborhood kids all knew her as “mom” because sleepovers were a weekly thing in her household and even dress up was allowed as long as she could take pictures. Baton and dance in a house of girls was a must, but when it came time to put on the tights sweat dripped down her face and steam rolled out her ears as she ran through the house convincing her miniature humans to get out the door on time. The single life suited her for many years, but at thirty five she finally called with news “WE DID IT, WE GOT MARRIED!”She was beaming from ear to ear and had the rock to prove that after years and years of dating she had finally married the man of her dreams. She carried herself more confidently, shoulders back, head held high, and her eyes showed happiness like never before. Her positive outlook on life never faulted, and her motto “positive and peppy” was heard daily, until one day that will haunt her for the rest of her life.

Broken, sobbing, and kneeling on the floor she was told the unthinkable. Her daughter was passing away at twenty three years old due to an illness that most people walk away from. “How do I leave without her? How do I live? How did this happen?” were questions she would ask over and over again that day and for many days to come. Sitting in the living room at noon on any given day still wearing pajamas, with eyes stained red, and no motivation to move became the normal. Her positive demeanor and peppy attitude were gone, and she was left as a shell of the person she once was. Even a new grandchild could only brighten her eyes for a little while, she would eventually turn away and withdraw from the outside world. “This study examined bereaved parents of deceased children (infancy to age 34) and comparison parents with similar backgrounds (n = 428 per group) identified in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. An average of 18.05 years following the death, when parents were age 53, bereaved parents reported more depressive symptoms, poorer well-being, and more health problems and were more likely to have experienced a depressive episode and marital disruption than were comparison parents.” (Rogers, 2010). Broken and dim, the light no longer shined as bright as it once did, but amazingly after months of heartbreaking pain and emotional turmoil she stood up, brushed her flannel shirt off and took a step forward.

Being able to move forward after a tragedy is something that most people can’t accomplish. But this amazing loving independent woman has grown not only as a mother but also as a person throughout this journey. To be able to support grieving mothers in support groups, and talk openly with others about her loss, not only allowed her to rediscover herself but also become a stronger person. Her beautiful hazel eyes and warm hugs are the greatest embrace after a long days work, and hearing her sing to Ed Sheeran while strutting around the kitchen making supper is something that everyone should witness. Not only does this woman have a life worth living, but she appreciates every moment. Snuggling on the couch with her grandson while whispering secrets before bed is her new nightly ritual, and making sure he knows that his grandma loves him is her main goal.

Goals in life change with age, but when something traumatic cuts you off at the knees you have to regain your strength and find not only yourself but also the will to live. This woman has come back to life after a loss that could have been the end of her, and she has done it with grace determination and love. Dancing around the kitchen and having the radio blaring was something she gave up years ago, but with time and family she finally had to be told again to turn it down. Depression and loss can limit a person’s life, but how they choose to deal with that loss, and what becomes of the future is up to them. She chose to live each day with her family, and be at peace with reality, because one day she knows “I will see her and hold her again”.