When I was going to college in 2011, I had to write a paper and I would like to share that with you here. The ending is the comment and grade from the teacher.
“God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.” (1)
Growing up, I was a very odd little girl and endured a very difficult childhood. My only dream was to be normal and have a fairytale life with the ideal house and the perfect family. I thought I had all of that until a few years ago when things began to drastically change. Cancer entered my world, shattered my dreams, and taught me that normal is nothing but a setting on the clothes dryer and does not exist in the real world.
I cannot pinpoint when I learned that I was adopted as a baby, it is just something that I have always known. Knowing that I was adopted I always felt that I was different from most people. My home life was such that I felt like a round peg that tried to fit into a square hole. I did not share the same emotions or actions that my adopted parents had. Only when I found my birth father did I truly understand the role of genetics verses learned responses. The more time that I have spent learning about my birth father the more I have realized that my actions and what makes me the person that I am today came mostly from him.
My childhood forced me to learn how to become a survivor. A couple of different men sexually molested me at a young age. My physically and emotionally abusive adopted mother died when I was nine years old and my adopted father remarried a woman with two sons shortly after. My new step mother was not able to love me as her own child either. Since I had two mothers that were not my birth mother, I was under the delusion that birth mothers had to love their own babies. This was proven to be a false statement and after finding my birth mother in 1993. From this experience, I learned that not all mothers love all of their babies.
During my high school years I felt like a freak most of the time. I wore clothes that my step mother made and they looked very funny and different from what everyone else was wearing. I was also not allowed to drive a car to high school. This forced me to get rides with people or walk. I was not very popular, but did have a good group of friends that were outcasts like me.
When I had my own children, I was determined to not repeat the cycle of abuse that I went through as a child. My goal was to be the kind of mother to my children that I did not have growing up. I was a stay at home mom for my three daughters, volunteered in their elementary school, and allowed them to be little girls. I also took on the huge challenge of home schooling them when they asked me to try.
My greatest source of learning, challenge and change came when my twenty-year-old daughter was diagnosed with cancer. She had two forms of fast moving blood cancer, leukemia and lymphoma. As I was the sole caregiver I had to quickly become well educated in doctors, nurses, chemotherapy, procedures and hospitals. She survived and was in remission, but her health was on the mend only for a brief time, as she soon became immune compromised and developed two forms of pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). She was placed in the Intensive Care Unit which was where I began my training all over again. This was a whole new kind of experience with more intense care and consequences. After fighting for thirty-three days, she died.
Now I have lost many “friends” that found it too difficult to deal with my daughter’s death. I feel as if everywhere I go I have a sign over me that screams “mother who has a dead daughter.” I cry in public for no reason in which anyone would ever begin to understand and then feel as if I am being stared at even more. I was not normal growing up and I will never be normal again. I just have to keep reminding myself that normal is just a setting on the clothes dryer and does not exist in the real world or my world and that is okay.
(1) Unknown source http://www.great-quotes.com/quotes/category/Life/pg/4
Sherry, you have endured and survived so much more than any child would elect to experience. You write so clearly, it feels like tthe words describe a scene in the present. Congratulations on your resilience and tenacity. normal is nothing but a setting on the clothes dryer and does not exist in the real world. This is a line that Erma Bombeck would have been proud to claim! Well done! 25/25