MINT HILL, NC – As any senior can tell you, this year has been rough. From dealing with the constant battle that is balancing your social life and grades, to personal struggles mixed with studying for the test the next day, there have been many challenges. It’s hard to want to keep up with Kardashians and keep up with your grades.
This year started off amazing: the bliss of your last year of high school is unparalleled. Things didn’t get shaky until halfway through the first semester. I had gotten a call from my mother saying that she had lost her place and had been homeless for a couple of weeks, but there wasn’t anything I could do. I kept in contact with her through the shelter phone, and every now and then I’d have to send her money to find dinner or to buy a hotel room for the night to take a shower for the first time that week.
This went on for some months until one day I received a call from her. My mother has been dealing with cancer for years, for as long as I can remember. In this call, she explained how she went to the doctor and they told her that she had cancer in her back and could remove it. Her surgery went well, but they found more cancer in her bones, and there was nothing they could do about it. She’s not able to afford any treatments or medications besides her regular checkups.
At this point, she had been saving up enough to rent a room, and she had begun to get on her feet. All was well until February when she was attacked on her way home. The aggressor ripped out the tubes that were connected to her breast tissue to drain fluids. Luckily, there was someone passing by who saved her and took her to the hospital, but from this point on, she was too weak to work, so ultimately she lost her room and was back at the shelter, meaning I was sending her money to do even the basics of life.
This went on for two months until the beginning of April when we got the news that she had 80 percent of her liver covered by cancer, meaning that she only had weeks to live. I’m a happy guy, and I usually leave my negative feelings at home. I don’t like to feel like a burden, but it was this point that broke me. I couldn’t sleep, eat, or do the most basic of things without thinking about how much pain she must’ve been in. The pin that broke this camel’s back was getting a call that my 15-year old brother was missing after his father had beat him.
It was at this point that where I almost gave up completely. The only thought that flooded my mind was that this wasn’t fair. They hadn’t done anything to deserve this, and I was powerless to do anything. On top of this, my family split up, and I was forced to leave my home for a few days and spend those nights in a hotel because of an incident over spring break. My guardians got a divorce, and the situation led to many days of court and even testifying against people in my own family. I remember laughing out loud in court because I remembered I had a quiz the next day.
My mother is still suffering, and it’s been three weeks, and my brother is still missing, but I’ve held on because I know that if I work hard enough – if I can push myself just enough – I can take care of them one day, and I can give them a future without any worries. To finally see them happy and worry-free is what drives me to wake up every day and put my best foot forward in anything and everything I do. My teachers and friends supported me the whole way and gave me the strength to keep my head up. I’ll never forget my 12th grade teachers who continuously checked in on me, and worked with me to lessen the weight the world on my shoulders.