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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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A message to my mom

My mom when she was visiting her brother and sister in Vermillion, South Dakota.
Photo provided by Dove Nissen
My mom when she was visiting her brother and sister in Vermillion, South Dakota.

On December 29, 2012, ½ of my world was taken from me; my 43-year-old mother, who cherished nothing more than her children and singing, succumbed to alcoholism. Mother’s Day has never since been the same; rather than spending the day making gifts for my mom, it is now spent thinking about the childhood I never got to have. 

Akin to most seven-year-old children, my younger self had no worries in the world aside from how long I could spend outside and wondering when the next day I would be at my mom’s house was. In these limited times, my mom would take my sister and I to grab donuts at the Get-N-Go across the street before school. On the bus ride home, she would sing to us, blocking out the eccentrics who roamed the public city metro. We would come home to the apartment that was too small to house the two cats that she owned, and my mom would hardly take her shoes and jacket off if she knew we were even slightly hungry. 

Reflecting back on the seven short years of my life that were spent switching from mom and dad’s house, I no longer have the resentful view of my mom that I adopted in the years following her death. I no longer blame her for letting us live in the imperfect area of town, or not being able to buy the on-brand food. More importantly, I no longer blame her for leaving me without a mom, and my dad without the mother of his girls. Instead I acknowledge her selflessness and devotion to her two youngest children. I cherish her willpower to raise my sister and I while struggling through her own battles of addiction and mental health. I can only hope to become a fraction of the woman she was; my message to my mom is thank you for doing your absolute best and allowing me to appreciate what is not yet gone.

“It takes a village,” could very well be the phrase to describe my entire life. Not having a mother to take over certain responsibilities, the women in my life have led, and continue to lead me through all of the torment that life seems to keep chucking directly towards me. My sister Daisy, my built-in best friend and my anchor is undoubtedly the biggest reason I am able to write this today. In part because of the fact that we experienced the same loss, but also because that loss brought us closer together. Through everything, she was the light I needed when all I could see was darkness. 

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I cannot go a Mother’s Day without thanking my mom’s sisters, Cami and Dove, who continue to share stories of my mom and keep her spirit alive. Memories of my mom fade as I grow older, but everytime I speak to either of them, their spunky and hilarious personalities paint a clear picture of the amazing woman she was. Thank you both for sharing the memories of my mom with me that I never got to hear from her, and for always keeping me in mind even though you were going through the same loss. 

On two separate instances, my dad was unable to care for Daisy and I, so we were sent to live with relatives. On the first occasion, my Grandma, who has since passed, took us in with open arms. No matter how busy or tired she was, a homemade dinner always made it to the table and she always made it a point to tuck us into bed. Although I was just a bit too young to understand, I want my Grandma to know that I have since realized and recognised the sacrifices she must have made in order to not only put a roof over our heads, but to make us as happy as she could, and for that I say thank you. 

The second time I was reloctaed turned out to be my forever home as the result of my dad passing away. On top of having a newborn, two teenage girls were placed with my Aunt Tracie and Uncle David. Tracie, who has also since passed, was the true definition of selflessness. Tracie had alphabet soup when it came to health issues, and it is undeniable that her quality of life was impaired as a result. Even so, daily trips to get ice cream and the periodical shopping day were never turned down. Although not connected through blood, Tracie did everything in her power to ensure that all of our needs were met and to teach the occasional life lesson, as a mother would. Tracie, thank you for teaching me what it means to be an independent woman, and I live through your altruistic character every day.

My village consists of not only family, but also people who I am around every day. If I were to write a thank you to every female teacher who has ever had an impact on my life, the rest of these pages would be filled. Unlike some teachers who gave the occasional smile in the hallway after class was out, my journalism advisor, Dr. Katie Kroeze will stop everything she is doing just to say hello. My junior year, Dr. Kroeze let me join the Statesman, but not without hesitation. Pre-Statesman, I turned every single journalism assignment in late, a fact that I am not proud of. Dr. Kroeze, however, saw past this and took a chance. Comparing my sophomore and junior self, pre and post-Statesman, I am now more confident in not only my writing, but in myself as a person. Furthermore, she inspires me to be a better student. Without fail, Dr. Kroeze always greets me with a smile, and notices when I am not having a good day.  She is someone who I will always look to for advice or when there is something on my mind. We are in no way related, but I am glad to say that she is a part of my village, and I owe her everything because she changed my life by just being herself. Dr. Kroeze, my teacher mom, thank you for going further than your job requires, and getting to know each and every one of your students. Thank you for instilling confidence in me, and for being my proof that there are still good people in the world.

This story was originally published on The Statesman on May 22, 2023.