Growing up after my mother’s death

By Kina Carney
Philadelphia, Pa.

The afternoon before she died, I stood at my mother’s hospital bedside with my grandma. I looked at all the tubes and machines that enveloped her body. I heard the ringing of the feeding machine. I saw the paleness of her face. The smell of the IVs made me run from the room, into the waiting arms of my grandma. That night, I heard my older brother crying. I ran to the top of the stairs to see what was wrong. I’d never seen him cry before.

After my mother died, I went to live with my grandma. My brother, who was 18, left to figure out his life on his own. My relationship with my grandma and my dad—who was married to, and had a child with, another woman—became tense. When I was a child, my mom would treat me like an adult, sitting me down and talking things out. But my dad and grandma liked to argue. They often got very loud. I wasn’t used to the way they raised children, and I had to grow up quickly.

For the first couple of years, it was my dad’s responsibility to help me with my homework. But when I started the ninth grade, I stopped working with him. I was tired of my grandmother constantly berating me. I learned to take care of myself because I didn’t want to rely on my grandmother. For example, I began to cook for myself and take myself shopping to avoid conflict with her.

At that point, I learned that my brother was the only person who knew who I really was. We share my mother’s kind and calm attitude. There are times when I want to give up on my family, but he reminds me of the morals our mother instilled in us, which keeps me moving. My brother constantly reminds me that our mom would have been really proud of me and she would want me to be myself. This helps me continue even though I have many disagreements with my grandmother and my father.

Despite our differences, I am thankful that I have my father and grandmother in my life; some kids do not have family members who are willing to take care of them after losing a parent. People deal with these situations in different ways, and my way was to adjust to my new life and ultimately grow as a person. This transition made me work harder, expand my intellectual horizons and become extremely independent and responsible.

Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I believe my mother and brother both embody this phrase. Soon, my brother encouraged me to forgive the people who were there for me. After forgiving them, I was able to mold a whole new relationship with them, which involved me understanding their viewpoints and why they were hard on me. Sometimes you have to be hard on the people whom you want to succeed. Now that I am older, I am very thankful for their actions, and my experiences with them are still helping me achieve my goals.

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