8 years ago today, my mom underwent a dangerous brain surgery procedure to remove a tumor on her brainstem. Though she survived, a stroke on the operating table left her unable to speak and completely paralyzed on the left side of her body. In an instant, my world was turned upside down. I was 17 years old and suddenly, I no longer had parents to guide me. Instead, I now had a parent who I had to take care of – a mom whose diaper I would end up changing hundreds of times, a mom whose limited communication abilities would leave me frustrated and angry, a mom who was so undeserving of the cards she was dealt, and a mom who ultimately was not the woman who raised me and my siblings. 8 years later, at 25, I am still amazed that I made it through those first few years, and every day I look at where I am with disbelief that I’ve made it this far without her. I remember the days I couldn’t get out of bed. I remember the overwhelming bitterness I felt every day. I remember the jealousy toward my friends and their parents and how sick to my stomach I was every time they complained about them, wishing that I had even one. I remember the anger that no matter how hard I tried to ignore, bubbled up in various forms of self destructive behavior.
And that’s why today, I am nothing but thankful. Thankful for the friends and families that not only caught me the many times I fell, but also lifted (and sometimes forced) me back up. Thankful for the 17 wonderful years with my kind and selfless mom who was also my best friend. Thankful for my superhero Noni, sister, and brother who continue to guide me through life’s big decisions. And mostly, thankful for the integrity and strength that my mom instilled in me from day one that is the reason I am nothing but proud of who I’ve become.
I know that I’m not special. There are families and children and men and women all over the world who face and overcome adversities that are simply unfathomable to me. But I do know, without a doubt, that I am lucky. A special thank you to the people that got me through it then and get me through it now, and everyone in between.
Tell your parents and/or children that you love them today.
“Insieme riusciremo sempre” – together we will always get through it