NIt all started in December of 2011 and I was seventeen years old at the time. I knew it was going to happen at one point. My father progressively started getting more addicted to alcohol and drugs, but my mother couldn't stop it nor did she want to stop it. My father was our main source for food on the table and my mom obviously didn't want me to go hungry. There were days and nights where I would go sleepless because my father would get himself wasted and I couldn't bear the thought of him being around my mother like that. He had already tried to beat the living day lights out of me in his drunken state, so how could I trust that he wouldn't do the same to my mom. In this state of mind, when my father was around at least, I'd stay up the whole night getting ready to separate my parents from a fight that could most likely get a hurricane to shut up. Then, when the last curse word was screamed and the commotion seemed to stop, my dad would storm out of the house with a bottle in his hand and drive away. He had, surprisingly, never gotten in a car accident while he was drunk, but to me I’d consider that luck.
My dad bought an apartment for one down the street, so he could always find his way. You may think that sounds great for him to try to bring his life together, but really he was just trying to tear my life apart. My dad bought the apartment with the money my mom had been saving up for a whole year, which was about five thousand dollars, less than a week ago. She earned all five thousand dollars from her small job at the corner store selling soda pops to snobby rich kids who could afford them, but my dad didn’t care about all that hard earned money my mom made. He only cared about himself. My mom didn’t stand up to him either, she just gave up and that has been the downfall for my mom ever since I was born.
It was about four days after my dad bought his junky apartment that he said he was going to be back at the house. I knew he was just going to ask for money again, that was the only reason he usually had come to our house for. That meant I had to be back on watch at the house, just in case my dad tried to do something crazy. Except I forgot something. I had a baseball game that night with my local team, the Jefferson Blazers, and my mom was sick with a sinus infection so she couldn't come. She never really came anyways and she didn’t care. Her mind was so focused on making ends meet for our family of two that she never had the time to connect with the outside world very much.
My father hadn’t plucked up the courage to drive to our house yet, which was about four blocks away, and I suspected he was drunk like he always was. Before I left, I reminded my mom to lock all the doors because I didn't want her to be home alone with my father lurking around. I was sure my mom did what I told her, so I left in peace praying that God would protect her. Directly after the game I made sure to call my mom. While the phone was ringing, I prayed once again that my mom would be safe in God’s hands. Suddenly, right after the ringing stopped on my old and outdated flip phone, there was an immediate response. Yet, it wasn't the response I had expected there to be. Instead of hearing my mother’s frail and quiet voice, I heard the chief police officer of Jefferson respond to my call. The news he gave me was terrible. He had told me to remain calm and to not worry about the event, but how was I supposed to do that!
While I was gone, my father had come to our house. He recognized the locked doors and was angered by what he thought was an “act of treason against our family.” He started to shake the doors and scream at my mother. I was terrified just to think about the situation, ignorantly not knowing about what really happened. Directly after hearing the news, I put my phone in my pocket and sprinted as fast as I could home. After a good ten minutes of sprinting, I was exhausted, but I had made it to the scene of flashing patriotic colors. It was not a sight you’d consider satisfying. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to witness. There was caution tape everywhere, blood stained on the concrete of our patio, forensic trucks, and shattered glass in every place you could find.
That night my dad had got into the house. My mom tried to run away, but she couldn’t. My dad screamed at her asking for money, yet she denied him, and with a glass bottle in his hand he knocked her out in sheer drunken anger. Hearing the loud crash of the glass hitting the floor after it hit my mothers head, my neighbor had immediately ran over to the scene knowing about my father’s addiction. I was lucky that he had made it in time. Our neighbor, being strong in stature, threw his fist right in between my father’s eyes as soon as he saw him try to inflict more abuse on my mother. Soon afterwards, my neighbor had called the police with my two unconscious parents by his side and hastily covered up my mother’s head wound with a towel to stop the bleeding. When I arrived, only about 10 minutes after the police did, my parents were still next to each other. This was the last night I had ever seen them together or even next to each other and it was the worst. My mom was slightly awake, but she wasn’t fully aware of the paramedics around her after losing so much blood, and my dad was still unconscious, yet he had cuffs around his hands. My dad was surrounded by police officers. Before my dad could even realize it, he was in the back seat of the chief policeman’s car driving away.
That night I stayed with my mom at the hospital. I watched over her in the middle of night still shaken by the thought of what my father had done to her. Silent and angry at God, I fell asleep in my hopeless state wondering what was going to happen next with my mom and I. But, I found joy in one thing, my father was gone and that meant that my mom would be safe. Early in the morning, I woke to a loud noise and someone pushing me around. Thinking and hoping that last night was all a dream and my mom was just waking me up for school, I stood up. Yet, all that I hoped for was lost and after rubbing my eyes I knew I was still in the hospital, but what was happening was nothing I had expected at all. As soon as I woke up, I saw a large group of doctors around my mom. And weirdly, the annoying heart monitor wasn’t beeping at the correct pace. Confused and still sort of in a sleep like state, I asked one of the doctors what was going on. His response had changed my life forever and my future looked bleak because of it. My mom was dying. She was dying right in front of my eyes and I couldn’t do anything about it.
Later that evening, my mom died in an overused and uncomfortable hospital bed from complications that were unknown. The doctors told me that it seemed to them that she just gave up. They said, she was completely fine physically other than the scars she received from my father, but the only way she could of died was from stress build up. Yet, there still wasn’t clear enough evidence to identify the cause of her death. All I knew, was that my mom was gone and my father was in prison, which only meant one thing, foster care.
The Monday after my Mother’s death, a small family of four who lived in Austin, Texas, took me in. Walking into foster care, my heart was hardened and closed of from the rest of the world. I tried several times to run away from it all, but each time I was taken back to this foster family. It felt as if the whole state of Texas didn’t want me to leave this family. Yet, as I was exposed to this small family that I never thought would understand the pain I was going through, I learned that they cared for me more than anyone else had in my life. They showed me love and how to love, which I never truly understood how to do. I was always so fixated on the problems in my family that I never opened up to loving my family.
Later, in April of 2012, the Ruskin family adopted me two days before I turned eighteen. Two days before I would age out of the foster care system and have to live life on my own. I was given a second chance and a new beginning. Not only a second chance to love and be loved, but also a chance to make things right with the family I had left. Entering the Ruskin family in April, I was asked one question, “Do you know who Jesus is?” I admitted to them that I had a knowledge and belief that He was real, I just never really truly accepted him because of all the pain I thought He had placed in my life. But, my new family taught me that what I thought he put in my life was pain, was really joy because I was given a new opportunity by God to join the their family and to be washed clean of all my past mistakes. Soon, I realized that what they were saying was true, and in about six months I accepted that truth and decided to follow Jesus.
I was finally satisfied with my life, except for one area of it. There was still a gap in between me and my father’s relationship and I learned that if I was going to truly follow Jesus, then this gap had to be taken away. Hesitantly, I decided that I was going to meet my father at his prison and try my best to fill a gap full of hatred with love. And this movement I was trying to make in me and my father’s relationship started with an “I forgive you and I love you in the midst of all that you’ve done because I’ve learned that my Heavenly Father loved me so much that He sacrificed His own son for my sins to have a relationship with me. I want to mirror that sacrificial love He had for me, so I’m sacrificing my pride to have a relationship with you dad.” That was the start of my new relationship with my father. He didn’t understand anything I said at first, but I knew I had planted a seed of life where there was death, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.