More than half a lifetime ago something major happened in my life. Something so profound, that while in the midst of it I thought I had super human power, a will of steel, and knee dropping humility.
Something so life changing that I kept a secret.
A secret that got bigger as each day passed. A secret that bore the roots of relationships; destroyed trust, broke hearts, mended fences and blossomed a lifetime of happiness and joy. A secret that I thought only I knew for nearly 7 months. A secret that bred new secrets that others kept, but did not share.
That secret manifested itself into truth 20 years ago.
In March of 1988 two young people did something young people do, and sometimes regret later. I don't know that I can ever say I regret it. Because from it came something so precious that honestly, one cannot doubt Gods plan.
From that act, came a life.
The signs were obvious to any observer. The sickness - 5 months of daily non stop trips to the bathroom. Pale clammy skin, weightloss and exhaustion. Then came oversized clothes, an insatiable appetite and excuses. Stories of why although I hadn't eaten most of the summer, I still gained weight in obvious places.
I was living 1500 miles from home. So the people who knew me best were not seeing the changes in me. By the time summer was over I felt I had devised a plan that would prove that while only 17, I knew what the right answers were.
Then I came home.
I came home to a mother who was hurt that I still could not confess to her my secret. The secret she had known all along. The secret she kept for me, and knowledge of from me. And she had other secrets too. She had told someone. Someone who wanted more than anything to have a child of her own but could not.
I came home to my boyfriend. The young man who I had been with for almost a year. The boyfriend who had come to visit me in that far away place during the summer, but still didn't know my secret. The young man who I would date for two more years even after the secret was revealed, but was too naive himself to notice the changes in me.
I came home to my father. The man who blamed my mother for it all happening. The man who felt defeated and felt a failure. When my mother told him my secret I thought my world would end. But instead he put his arms around me and told me it would be ok. It wasn't however. Because this was the last straw that unravelled their already unravelling marriage. Not that my secret would have made a difference in the grand scheme of things. Most likely made him stick around longer than he had intended, to protect me from more harm.
Everyday my secret grew bigger. When I was forced to leave my school and go to a school for other girls with secrets, my life as a senior at my school ended. My friends didn't know how to deal with my now out in the open secret. They were afraid to talk to me, instead found it easier to talk about me.
It was hard. I was the muse to my boyfriends family. Paraded about as the girl who almost ruined their son's life. The girl who was taken to holiday parties and then made the blunt of jokes about basketball's and overeating. My secret became their joke.
As December rolled around, promises were made, plans were developed, papers were signed, and the waiting began. At the time I had no idea how this secret turned blessing would change my life forever.
The day my baby was born is etched forever in my mind. The following days however are a blur. I didn't see her, hold her, or say good bye to her. I didn't want to. I was afraid I would not be able to follow through with my decision. My boyfriend however spent as much time as he could with her. Letting her know that we both loved her, and that we made this decision to better her life.
The day we left the hospital we both cried. Not because we thought we made the wrong decision, but because we knew that our lives would never be the same. Innocence was never to be reclaimed. We wore the mark of children who bore a child. But we got through it together.
And our baby girl entered a life filled with love, and joy, and pride and more than she could ever wish for. She has been offered experiences most have never been offered. She has travelled places many will never see. She is receiving an education that is beyond my wildest dreams with opportunities that are abounding.
11 years ago the secret that was held by many, known by only a few, and spoken about by no one finally was revealed. Just before her 9th birthday, she asked for and received the knowledge she had been seeking for many of her young years. She found out that one of her closest family members, not much older than she, was the same person who gave her life. Once known only as her cousin, now known as so much more.
Our relationship has blossomed ever since. While she never shared a home with them, she has 6 siblings. My children, Mantha and Jadon, absolutely adore her, as she does them. They have grown up knowing her as their own. Her birth father has 4 children, all siblings to her that she has only met once, but she has created a relationship with their family that will last for her lifetime - when she is ready to explore it further.
For now, she is a successful Sophomore in college - a brilliant student who has a brilliant future ahead of her - planning to study abroad, and making more friends than I have ever known in my own lifetime.
In just over a month, my secret turned blessing will celebrate her 20th birthday.
20 years ago, I never would have imagined this day. 20 years ago I never would have imagined how much pride I would have in her. How much love I would have for her. How much she would change my life.
For 20 years I have thanked God for her life. For 20 years her parents (my mothers sister, and her husband) have thanked me for her life. For 2o years we have been blessed by the child she was, the woman she is becoming, and the future she holds in her hands.