The whole world seemed to end and begin with my mother. She was my life and my world revolved around hers. When she said it would be alright I believed her. She healed my scrapes with a kiss, stopped my tears with a hug and eased my mind in the effortless way that only a mother knows how to. I always knew that I was her favorite. I worked hard to impress her. Getting good grades, never back talking and always doing as I was told. I never questioned the things she would do, the things I would see and I never guessed that at nine years old she would leave me.
Envision a nine year old me. Standing in front of an apartment building with my eyes fixed on the street. I remember having to squint through the tears and the brightness of the lights to see her. I could see tears rolling down her cheeks and I assumed they were sad in nature. I would later find out that regret was the foundation of those tears. As she was placed in the backseat I could look over and see my older brother Ray Ray. He was in the car behind my mother. I clutched my younger brother Devan’s hand and I let my tears fall in silence. My oldest brother mouthed the words “I love you” to my little brother. It was at that moment that I took the first step into the background and into a new position of holding everything together.
A few things happen when you watch your mother pay the toll of wrong choices that were made. First you began to understand that life is unfair and you began to swear at every cop car you see. Secondly you witness your single parent family fall apart. You become aware that you are the last person standing in-between your younger brothers hope in the future and the possibility of all that being lost. I made a choice that day to make sure that I would be worthy of calling myself his older brother. I made a choice to bury my feelings. In part because I wanted to make sure he would be okay and mainly because I didn’t want to think about the fact that my birthday was tomorrow.
With no family to take us my brother and I were taken to the Guardians Home. Which is just a fancy combination of words that mean orphanage. They always kept us together because no one wanted three brothers with one being a teen. So the separation began for us. I protected and cared for my little brother as any brother should. It became second nature to me. Three years later my baby brother Christopher was born and this was no doubt one of the happiest moments of my life and gave me another reason to smile. What I didn’t know then was that was that his birth began the road to a better life for us.
I can recall that day vividly. I was in my room at the Guardians Home when they called for me and my little brother to come down to meet our new “parents.” I dragged my feet the whole way down. One hand gripped around my clear plastic bag filled with my belongings and the other holding Devan’s shoulder as we stepped down into the lobby. That’s when I saw Mrs. Smith. Standing at the counter with her back to me.
I hoped that she was my new “parent.” After all she was the only person in the entire orphanage who I felt really paid attention to me. Books were our thing and although our interactions were minor I held on dearly to her kind words and actions.
I let this thought go because hope wasn’t something that I knew well. Then she looked at me. She asked me “Do you want to go home with me?” I didn’t answer at first even after my little brother had already said yes with excitement. I remember feeling like I shouldn’t be happy to go with her, because in a way I felt like I was betraying my mother by being happy with a different “parent.” So I shook my head nonchalantly with happiness engulfing my heart.
We stayed there for a while. Probably just shy of a year. It was a long desired chance for me to breathe before we went back to my mother for a few months. We eventually found our way back to the home of Mrs. Smith. She took all of us in. We stayed there for a few years and for once in my life I didn’t feel like a burden to another family. I finally felt accepted.
In 2012 my life would change forever. We knew her as Grandma and her loving husband Grandpa. They were everything I imagined grandparents to be and so much more. What I didn’t know is that they too wanted us to be more than just grandchildren. They wanted us to be theirs and we wanted nothing more than to belong. On September 9, 2012 our adoption was finalized and we had a family to call our own. Life would innever be truly perfect, but regardless of that I had all that I had ever wanted. Family is still a fairly new concept for me. Well maybe not what a family is, but what it means to have one of your own.
That is but a mere glance at the timeline of my life. I could spend days telling you every single detail but that would be too much. On my 21st birthday I set a goal for myself to sort through my past. It has taken almost two years for me to share my story openly with anyone, but I have my God and my supports to thank for helping me along the journey. Without them I would not have grown as much as I have. I am still traveling along my path and I find no fault in that. I have no idea where my endpoint will ultimately lead be, but I do know one thing for sure. That is that I cannot live in the pursuit of happiness, but rather leave my heart open enough to let happiness find its way to me.