I read a lot. There’s not much else for a sixteen-year-old girl to do when she’s constantly in and out of the hospital. I read it all – the classics, mysteries, romance, and everything between. From Tolstoy to Colleen Hoover. I don’t discriminate, and I’m sure I read many books my mom wouldn’t approve of, but she lets me. Her only daughter. Her world.
“She’s too wise for her age,” I’ve heard my family say. I feel too wise for my age. The constant nagging voice of death will do that to a person, I guess.
I’m sixteen, and I’m about to die. A weak heart. That’s the nicest way to put it. A heart so big that my body can’t hold it in. That’s what my mom says. Sounds like a line from a book if you ask me.
I once read a line that stuck with me. “This isn’t a love story, but a story about love.”
I don’t remember the book anymore, but I remember that line. I’ll always remember that line. That line is my mom.
The best person I know.
She had me young. “Too young,” according to my grandparents. Her high school boyfriend had promised her the world. They were going to go to the same college. She would be pre-med; he would be pre-law. They’d get married right after, and then support each other as they continued their education. They were planning their lives together.
And then their plans changed.
He held her hand as she held the pregnancy test in her other hand. He squeezed so tightly as if he were trying to give her all his strength in that grip.
“It’s okay,” he whispered. “We’re going to be all right,” he promised.
She loved him fiercely then—loved him with everything in her—even though he was practically falling apart. One night of passion had turned her world upside down. Panic, fear, anxiety … those were the only emotions my mom could process. But her boyfriend seemed so calm as if nothing could faze him … faze them.
When the test came back positive, my mom cried, but they weren’t happy tears. Her boyfriend cried too, but we’ll never know if they were happy or sad.
“We’ll figure this all out together,” he told her.
And for that summer before college, things seemed to be going okay. He doted on my mom, didn’t let her lift a finger, and treated her like the queen she was.
And then it was time to go to college, and decisions had to be made. Were they going to go? Was my mom going to stay back while her boyfriend made his way through the world, earning a spot among the chaos so he could pull my mom and me through with him? Or would they find a different path altogether, one that maybe didn’t involve school?
In the end, with my mom’s encouragement, he left her behind with promises he’d call every day to check on both his girls. He swore he’d be back every chance he got, and when the baby was born, he’d figure something out so they could all live together.
He called every day the first few weeks, but then the calls came every few days, then every few weeks … until there were no more calls. And the visits? Never happened.
He broke my mom’s heart in a letter. It arrived shortly after he stopped calling.
Things have changed, it read. I’m not ready to be a father. I thought I was, but being away at college has made me realize there are still things I want to do with my life. Having a family right now isn’t one of them. One day…
There was more to the letter, but that was the only part that mattered. My mom kept it for the longest time, and it was so worn out you knew she must have read it at least a thousand times. I often wondered how she felt when she got that letter. She must have known it was coming, but knowing is different than being slapped in the face with reality.
She didn’t try to reach out to him or change his mind. What would have been the point? She wanted a man who kept his word, not a boy easily distracted by pretty things. She wanted a husband who loved her unconditionally, not a man who would marry her simply to do the right thing. But mostly, she wanted a dad for me, not someone who threw me away before I was even something to throw away.
I never called him anything but “her boyfriend.” He wasn’t a dad to me, a father, not even a sperm donor because that implied he’d willingly made me. Sure, neither had my mom, but she swore she was in love the minute she heard my little heart beating on the monitor. I believed her because she got this faraway look on her face whenever she told me that, as if she was reliving the moment, and her lips would kick up at the sides as a shy smile overtook her face. It was a look of pure joy, and it was directed at me.
She never said a bad word about her boyfriend. Never bad-mouthed him to me. I learned about what happened from her best friend, my non-blood aunt, Elena. She told me the story of how I came to be, but I have a feeling she embellished it a bit for dramatic purposes.
When I was born, my mom said it was the greatest day of her life. She said I cried the minute I entered this world until she held me in her arms. Her embrace comforted me, and she knew then that we’d be truly all right – just her and I.
And that’s how it was … with some help from her family and friends. She even went to school, graduating with an engineering degree, and earned a good and honest living, providing for everything we both needed. She is my mom and my dad. She is supermom. She is my best friend.
The best person I know.
So much hardship in her life. I wish I didn’t add to it, but I was born with a defect – my “too-big” heart.
I don’t want to die. Not so much because I want to live. Sixteen years of being in and out of the hospital, of being afraid to exert myself too much, of being different from my friends… no, I’ve come to terms with death for myself. I don’t want to die because I am her world, and if I die, I’m afraid my mom won’t live.
The best person I know.
She deserves so much … so much love. But hers isn’t a love story, but a story about love…