Last night, I learned that my mother had to work since she was 14 years old. No one came to her high school graduation. She decided to go to college because her friends at work told her that she was smart. She applied to a local college and studied on the New York City trains and at night to get her undergraduate degree. When she was later diagnosed with breast cancer, she continued to work while on chemo because she had an obligation to take care of my brother and I. She got her PHD and doctorate while putting my brother and I through Harvard.
I never knew her struggle because she was always a vision of strength. Even if she suffered, even when she was sick, she put on a brave face for us, remaining serene and calm, maintaining a stable foundation so we could thrive.
I am my mother’s child. There is SO MUCH going on behind my smile, but I’ll never let it show. She taught me to be strong.
Now I understand why my mom keeps every single article I’ve ever written. Why she still has copies of my high school transcripts, college acceptance essays, and awards. I am the fruit of her labor, the flower whose seed she planted in the fertile soil of her sacrifice and watered with sweat and tears. Because of her, I cannot, I will not lose.