My mom is an extraordinary lady. She has gone through a war, a painful separation from her husband, unemployment and many other difficult situations. In Bosnia, before the war started, I didn't talk to my mom that often. I was an only child, and I was daddy's little girl. My mom always seemed depressed and unfriendly when I tried to talk to her. I always honestly thought that I didn't like her, not even realizing what I was thinking.
Right before the war started, my parents sent me to Serbia so nothing would happen to me. They stayed in our hometown with my newborn brother, and I was in Serbia with my aunts and different families. I was only 12 and I didn't know what was happening. I thought everything would be over one day and I would go home. I thought this was a big adventure and I was the main character. But then I realized that what I was living through was not an adventure, but a nightmare. My dad was put in a prison camp where he was beaten and abused by Serb soldiers. My mom was in our house trying to take care of my little brother and my sick grandmother.
Even though she was living in hell, she still managed to write me letters saying I would come home soon and I shouldn't worry. I appreciated her letters, and thought about all the times that I hadn't liked her. In one of my letters, I asked why she never tried to have a relationship with me, like other mothers and daughters. She wrote saying how hard it was for her to be at any kind of social situation, because she felt like everyone knew that she couldn't hear and would make fun of her.
My mom has had a hearing problem since she was two and had very high fever which basically burned her ear nerves. Since then, her family made fun of her. You ask yourself, "How could they do that?" but that still happens. My mom never had access to hearing aids since my grandfather believed she would never do anything with her life, so why spend money on hearing aids?
From then on, I wrote my mom all the time and finally one year later, we were reunited. Six months later, we came to America, the country of freedom and opportunities. Again my mother faced many struggles, not only because of her hearing, but because she was now a single mother in a foreign country. In spite of this, she still had the strength to fight for a better life for her children.
No one has influenced me more than my mother. She has shown me that even when all the odds are against you, you need to fight and stand up for what you believe.
After I finish my undergraduate studies I would love to go to medical school and provide people with medical services, because I know that if my mom had had access to a hospital, she would never have lost her hearing. I want to make a difference in this world, and I want to make my mom proud. She deserves that. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.