I became a single mom during the Vietnam era. There was plenty of unrest, anger, hatred, drugs, draft dodgers, freedom fighters, and general unrest in our country. I vowed that my children would not be one of society’s statistics: the statistics that said little black children raised by single females would become drug dealers, prostitutes, gang bangers (anything but productive!).
Now, with my vow to myself at age twenty-three, I began raising my children with a purpose. I refused to go on welfare. I watched so many of my able-bodied friends rely on our government for their livelihood. All the while receiving more monies and privileges than I had while working! I made a conscious decision to devote my life to my children and give them the best that I could. To give them my all. To have them as the center of my life. I loved and adored my innocent children and to this day, I can say I enjoyed being a single parent. It was my lifestyle and I embraced it. I gave them my complete attention and devotion. I always felt there would be plenty of time for myself when they left home. I was very protective of my children taking particular care that they would never doubt my love for them. I did not want them to ever feel neglected, unwanted, or unloved. Therefore, the men in my life had to comfortable in the background. I didn’t have non-biological “uncles” involved in my children’s lives. Oh, okay one or two may have slipped through my barrier! Years later, I proudly answered an interviewers question by saying, “My greatest accomplishment is being a single mother who has raised two successful, drug-free children.” I got that job for the next sixteen years!
I have always been a basically happy person, making the best of all situations. I have always been very giving to others. Giving emotionally, physically, financially and letting myself be last. And that made me happy and made me feel fulfilled. Giving is my purpose in life along with helping others keep focused on all the good life offers and helping others see the good within themselves. I chose to be happy. I chose to enjoy my children. I chose to work. I chose my life. We were three against the world. (Later on, we three became four but that makes for another story!)
My life, as I knew it, was destroyed suddenly. I became deeply saddened and couldn’t pick up the pieces of my life and live after the death of my son. I used up a lot of my energy dwelling on Michael’s death. I did not want to let him go. I did not want to move on without him. While grieving, I had a great amount of misplaced anger, emptiness and sadness. I did not and was not ready to let Michael go. Michael died two weeks after his twentieth birthday while serving his country in Italy. His death left a deep hole in my heart. And that deep hole can never be filled. It was for Michael and all that he would be. That hole was for his life. I can never go back to being the person I was before his death. He was one/third of the reason I existed.
What have I learned? Well, let me see … I have learned if there is life then there is death. But that death is only temporary, if you believe in the Good News. I know I will see my son again. God has promised me that. I have my Faith and God’s grace and mercy to sustain me daily. He is in control, not me. I have learned that my joy and peace does not mean the absence of pain and hurt, it means the presence of God within me. The power of my savior’s death transforms my brokenness. To God Be the Glory.