Losing Mom This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 21, 2012
So many questions roll around in your mind when confronting the unknown. When I was 14, I was in this position, and the experience left a lifelong impression and ignited within me a new ­passion.

I started that day like any other, at school. Afterward I was planning to go to a friend's house for her birthday celebration. I waited impatiently for the clock to signal the end of the school day, but the second hand seemed to pause before striking 3:15.

Finally, class was dismissed, and I rushed to my locker, threw in my books, and linked arms with my friend Lindsey as we giggled about all that was planned for her party. Suddenly my adopted dad intercepted me in the hallway, telling me to come with him. There was an urgency in his voice that I dared not question. I assumed I would join my friends later.

As we climbed into our pickup, I asked where we were going.

“You'll see,” he replied. There was a sense of foreboding in his voice that made me want to know more, but all he would say was, “We're going to see someone you know very well.”

As we pulled in front of the hospital, I became even more anxious to know what was going on. Then my dad led me to a family counseling room where I was surprised to find my older brother, Danny, whom I had not seen in a while, looking disheveled. His unshaven face and bloodshot eyes made my mind scramble for an explanation. My adopted sister, Jessica, was there, which confused me even more.

“Sit down,” my dad said. “Honey, your biological mom had an accident, and I'm afraid she isn't going to make it.” The weight of his words hit me hard, and I collapsed, tears flooding my eyes. He explained how she had fallen down a flight of concrete stairs, drunk, and hit her head.

As I listened, tears pouring down my face, my brother remained frozen in his chair, though tears were streaming down his face too. We finally stood, and I was led to where my mother lay on life support. She looked alive and beautiful as always, but I knew she was just a body on a machine.

I tried to convince myself that she was still herself, listening to me as I told her about my life from the time I was adopted until present day. I kissed her forehead and told myself she was simply asleep, laying my head on her chest to assure myself that her heart was beating, but I knew she would never wake up.

My brother wrapped his arms around me, and I held my mom's hand as we said good-bye.

That night, I didn't go to my friend's birthday party. Instead, I went to my sister's house without saying a word to anyone, and fell asleep in my brother's arms.

The unknown haunted me. Why had this happen? After she died, memories I had harbored of her anger and her emotional neglect faded. Seeing her that final time ignited in me a passion for children – children like me.

At the time, I did not see how any good could ever come from losing my biological mother. But her death brought her five children together. We stood in the kitchen of my adopted family's home – my home – and marveled that we were all together for the very first time.

Because of the person she was – and the person she could have been – I resolved never to let myself be like her. She chose life for me, and now I will live the life she never did. I'll be the person she never was.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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CarlBetten said...
Sept. 28, 2016 at 11:08 am
I use to feel such anger towards her too. But how can I hate someone who gave me you Caryn.
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