First of all, thank you for surviving. Your first thirty years were frighteningly traumatic, including an experience that should have killed you—at the very least, leave you mute and barren. Thank you for proving them wrong.
Thank you for loving my father so much that you, “Didn’t see his scars.” Thank you for loving him so much, you grossed me out, and overshared entirely too much. I loved it.
Thank you for forcing the doctors to take you in, a month early, so you could have your little leo-girl, instead of a virgo-boy. You knew the day that I would actually be born—and that I was a girl—and if you had not been insistent, I may not be here, seeing as you were actually in labor and I was in distress. Thank you for having me.
Thank you for teaching me how to read at such a young age. My love for books has endured throughout the years, to such a degree that I have turned down social engagements, just to stay home and read a book.
Thank you for my little brother. I know that you lost four in between us, but there is no one else on this earth that I would want for a sibling. And I wanted a brother. Seven years may separate us in age, but he was wanted by me, and I think that made all the difference. We are some of the closest siblings I have ever seen—so much hinges just on the very existence of the other. Thank you for teaching us how to love each other!! (Probably a “do as I say, not as I do” moment, admittedly. When your younger sister was born, you tried to kill her. But you loved her so much as you got older, I imagine the guilt was palpable.)
Thank you for always supporting and enforcing my education. You readily accepted that I was smarter than you—a fact I often doubted—but your belief in my capabilities helped give me the motivation and determination to live up to your standards.
Thank you for teaching me to learn from your mistakes. The whole, “Don’t do it because you’ll like it,” rule really worked for me.
Thank you for allowing me to tell you anything. And thank you for always being open and honest with me. Thank you for your stories.
Thank you for your laughter. Thank you for teaching me how to laugh. My greatest weakness—even the capricious psychotic beast that is my anger, falters under the force of my laughter. Sometimes I hear your laughter still, when my own echoes back at me in this stone building. Real laughter comes from the soul, and you taught me how to find it.
Thank you for telling me I was beautiful, every day. You fostered my ego.
In that case, thank you for teaching me, also, how to “fake it.” Although I am a horrible liar, I can fake a smile with the very best of them.
Thank you for not teaching me how to lie successfully. Although you have hollered at me for telling the truth when I should have lied, haha, I would still rather be unbearably truthful than a liar.
Thank you for all of those, “Science Experiments!” You waited for the world to present you with the opportunity—a freshly hatched nest of aphids or spiders on a bush outside, leftovers too long hidden in the fridge, what happens to a carcass when left on top of an ant hill—and your beautifully loud voice singing those two words to beckon us children to you…very fond memories.
Thank you for those “getting back into school-mode” two-weeks at the end of every summer vacation. The time when you would wake me up early every day, make me do math sheets and write a story, and go to bed on time.
Thank you for showing me how to be happy. Even when my world is a bleak gray maelstrom of horror and pain, you taught me how to find that rainbow, that silver lining. Happiness is my number one emotional state, and you taught me how to find it in the little things. From watching the year’s first batch of antelope frolic in the field across the way, to hearing the sound of my brother’s laughter, down to the way my cat looks at me when I annoy her—these are little dollops of happiness that I lap up to the point of insanity, hahaha! Even without you, this is a trait that refuses to change. Sometimes, despite my best efforts, it is way too easy to distract me from my pain. In fact, I was so happy in December that I forgot to request this day off from work. Instead, I am at work, and I have yet to shed a tear today…
Thank you for encouraging my imagination and my obsession with the macabre, mythological, and fantasy. You were the one who allowed me to watch Elvira and The Lost Boys at such a tender age, and I personally think I am a lot cooler for it.
Thank you for encouraging my passion. Not for anything in particular, just to passionately believe in being passionate in whatever you believe in. (Oh how I miss our conversations like this….all of our convos, really…)
On that note, thank you for teaching me how to passionately “write a note.” In fact, having such ready access to the written word has allowed me to spread my expertise in some of the most interesting ways. Yes…like us kids used to joke on the bus about your note-writing capabilities, people also joke about mine. Some even tell me to stop, hahaha! No…thank you for teaching me how to express myself this way. Even if the response is far from the one that I desired, at least I know that I expressed my feelings and I can let that part of it go.
Thank you for being my pitbull. I know someone once referred to you as my chihuahua (which made me giggle), but like my Fritz, a great dane-doberman mix, you were a ferocious guard dog that protected what was yours to the death, if need be. Granted, your standard for what could possibly be traumatic to your one and only daughter was rather low. However, you never withheld any of your traumatic stories from me, so I can only thank you for usually overreacting—I am sure the fear and, sometimes, humiliation, you instilled, served to prevent me from possibly engaging in or getting near to, seriously traumatic events.
Thank you for letting me know that it was okay to cry. I know that you had been lead to believe that crying was a form of weakness, but you showed me that it wasn’t.
Thank you for curbing my rebellion, by either approving (for example, “You can dye your hair any color that you want! I love the pink!”), or by being right about the things that actually wouldn’t work for me.
Thank you for teaching me what it really means to be brave. That there are a lot of things to be afraid of—seen and unseen—but instead of cowering, you have to face those fears head on. There will always be someone that will have your back—again, seen or unseen—in any situation. Bravery isn’t the absence of fear, it is finding courage in the face of your fear.
Thank you for loving me. There has never been a moment I ever truly doubted your love for me. Mad at me, yes. 100% willing to follow through on your threat, “I brought you into this world and I will take you out!” Yes. But if anything, those emotions were only enhanced by your love.
Thank you for teaching me how to love. You taught me what “unconditional” really means. Thank you for teaching me how powerful those words are, and not to use them lightly. Thank you for teaching me that once you say the words, once you mean them, then it should be like an “Unbreakable Vow” (Yes, a Harry Potter reference) has been established, and suddenly it seems as if you are physically incapable of causing that person pain. As weird as it sounds, thank you for making me scared to say the words, because I understand, respect, and fear the responsibility that goes with them.
Thank you for teaching me what is really important—family. They don’t have to be blood related, but people, period, are more important than anything else on this earth. Not money, fame, or the most perfect of possessions—a pair of loving arms is priceless.
Thank you for teaching me the power of rumors, the stupidity of hurtful gossip, and the cruelty of bullying.
Thank you for teaching me to stand up for what I believe in.
Thank you for teaching me to stand up for the underdog. And thank you for teaching me how to spot the true underdog in any given situation. To not rely on popular opinion, high ideals, or any sort of stigma or stereotype to influence my judgement of right and wrong. To use my eyes and my heart when I am faced with a situation in which I must choose sides.
On that note, thank you for teaching me that sometimes, even in family circles, you have to prioritize your “people.” Sometimes you have to pick sides, put one up above another, just to show where your loyalties lie. To let others know where your particular line is drawn. In that case, thank you for showing me that sometimes “right or wrong” doesn’t play into it at all. Sometimes it’s “ride or die” (although that is a phrase you’d never use—at least not without messing it up. “Disking,” mom? “Bo Diggity?” You were silly!) Sometimes people mean so much to you, that it doesn’t matter whether they are right or wrong. You are going to back that person, no matter what. Thank you for helping to teach me that that is okay. Thank you for also teaching me that sometimes that changes, and that’s okay. You may be “ride or die” for this person, but they might cross a line in the future that causes you to reevaluate your relationship. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes people leave your life for a reason. Thank you for teaching me about loyalty.
Thank you for teaching me how to forgive.
Thank you for teaching me to not be judgmental. Thank you for teaching me what you should actually base a judgment on—which is never based on the cover.
Thank you for giving me a hope that refuses to die.
Thank you for giving me so many little brothers. You may have only been capable of having two children of your very own—and definitely not due to lack of trying!—but between you and dad, there are several “adopted children” out there who remember you two as their second favorite, if not top favorite, parents. One of your “sons” got his Mama Wanda tattoo before your two real children did. Right over his heart. Your service was packed—and a lot of them were males under 20, your son’s friends, and young ladies under 30, my friends…because we all loved you so.
Thank you for teaching me that the world, indeed, does NOT revolve around me. That other people’s feelings matter, most of the time, more than my own. Thank you for teaching me how to curb my mouth.
Thank you for being my inspiration, my sounding board, and my number one fan. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for being the best mother anyone could ask for.
“Thank you for every second of your life…” In This Moment, “Into The Light”