I was raised by a mentally ill single mother with six other siblings. We were poverty stricken. We were also in and out of the foster care system. We didn’t have beautiful Christmases, nice school clothes or very much of anything growing up. There were times when we didn’t even have food, but the one thing we did have was love for each other.
I loved the small town I was born and grew up in. It was one of those quaint little river towns like Mayberry, from the “Andy Griffith Show.” We would fish along the riverbank, watch the boats carrying cargo, or the people water skiing in the summertime. We would play outside all day. Heck, we had an entire baseball team with me, my siblings and a few friends. Some of my fondest memories about my hometown is singing gospel songs in our little country church. I surely did feel Jesus inside that little church.
During the time I spent in foster care, between the ages of six and eight, I was a victim of sexual and physical child abuse at the hands of my so-called foster parents. The events that went on in that home are for another time and another story. I had an internal struggle as to whether or not to include this information in this blog. I ultimately decided to go ahead and include it because the reality of this type of abuse is too often swept under the rug. I chose long ago to not let the things that I endured during this time of my life affect me; realizing that I had no control over what went on there.
At the age of 13, my mother uprooted the family and moved us to what I came to call “The Concrete City”. I had so much distain for this city with its skyscrapers, moving stairs and what seemed to be a sea full of people. I was forever homesick for my quaint little village along the Ohio River. I just knew that this big city was going to be way too much for this little country girl, and at times it was.
Inevitably I became a teenage bride and thereafter a teenage mother. Some of the few people I have shared my story with, have made comments such as, “Wow, you’ve been through a lot in your life” or “how did you ever overcome all that?” The truth be known, it was pure determination to provide and care for my child! Don’t get me wrong, it took a lot of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice to lift myself out of the world I was trapped in. But, first and foremost, I am a mother and so the credit goes to my firstborn child, Sunny.
Through my determination, I managed to maintain a pleasant attitude, and stay focused and positive about the outcome of obtaining my goals. I also managed to get rid of the abusive drug-addicted spouses that found their way into my world.
Most importantly I managed to find joy in and through my children and my surroundings. When things went south, from my car breaking down to not having the funds to purchase basic necessities, I would hear my grandmother’s words in my head, “Count your blessings, Young Lady”, and I would. I was always able to find my blessings and kept trudging along to eventually obtain my goals and find success in the business world as an accountant.
For the record ladies, there are good men in the world. I did find my true love over thirty years ago and we married after a four-year courtship. Along with my children and grandchildren, he is one of my greatest blessings.
In August of 2015, I lost my mother. She was 86 years old when she died. The following April of 2016, my sister lost her battle with throat cancer. Although those deaths were difficult to deal with, they were somewhat expected.
Devastatingly, on August 27, 2016, I became a “Gold Star Mother.” For those of you who aren’t aware of the meaning behind that term, it is a title that no mother wants. It means that I lost my soldier, my child, my baby, my daughter, my precious Sabrina.
On that day in late August of 2016, I LOST MY JOY!
I would find myself screaming over, and over, and over again, “Where is the blessing grandma? I can’t find it!”.
Sadly, three weeks after my daughter’s death, I received another devastating phone call informing me that I had lost my youngest brother to a brain aneurism. I couldn’t even process this information; how could I? The reality of it all was that I had lost four family members within a year’s time.
As the third anniversary of my daughter’s death is upon us, I know she would want me to at least try to find joy again. I know that the journey will be difficult without my baby girl; I also know I have to make myself do it.Therein lies the question. How? How do I find joy again? Do I even know what joy is? Webster says it’s “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.” To me, that seems like a tall order to accomplish. It’s hard to envision it when you wake up with an overwhelming sadness every single day. A sadness so deep that it’s hard to suppress it. I usually try …I usually fail.
I’m no writer, therapist, or anything of that sort and putting my story out there for all the world to see seems difficult on so many levels. I’m not sure how often I will post or if I’ll even post anything at all, but my goal is to have this blog become a collection of joyful people, places and things, to hopefully help others who may have similar situations in their lives. Basically, it is my attempt to heal my broken heart, share some of my story and the story of my grief, and to share the journeys and paths I have and will travel on my “Road to Finding Joy Again.” I don’t know if I’ll ever find joy, so no promises here, but I know I have the determination to try!
If you’ve lost your joy and /or wish to follow me on my journey, I hope you do. I also hope that you share your stories with me. Together, maybe just maybe, we might actually find a glimpse of joy again.
Thanks for listening.