I will love, unconditionally and with abandon. For my mother.
Having already given birth to eleven children, my grandmother tried to abort her.
It failed. My mother was brought into this world unwanted, neglected, and abused. No one knew her birth date. Her father barely knew her name. To this day, her left hand bears a large, leathery scar from the day a hot iron fell on her and burned her for hours, because no one was there to hear her cry.
Despite a life devoid of love and rife with loneliness, my mother somehow gave me the kind of unwavering and limitless love she had never experienced herself. Even during the darkest of times when she couldn't say it aloud, I always knew I was loved.
From her, I learned strength and resilience, enabling me to overcome my own traumas and deaths of loved ones. I cultivated the confidence to be blatantly vulnerable and never let a day go by without telling people how I feel about them. I developed deep compassion for other marginalized people, leading me to pursue a career in health care for disadvantaged populations. And I gained the courage to stand strong in the face of discrimination and crippling insecurity about being a person who stutters in a world where everyone else can say their name without a second thought.
I will embody the happiness she missed out on. I will radiate the undying gratitude and empathy I learned from her. And I will use love, in all its multifaceted forms, to rise above adversity.
Because love is our most powerful weapon.