October 11, 1993
The darkness is surrounding me. I am falling. Down, down, down and I can’t get my head above water. There isn’t any water. Only darkness. My throat constricts and I try to scream or help. I need someone to hear me. I need someone to save me. I don’t have the energy to breathe in anymore. I suddenly woke up and realize the nightmare is reality. I can’t breathe. I stumble in the darkness and rush to my mom’s bedroom. I hold my throat and lungs to show her I’m having another severe asthma attack. She sets me down at the kitchen table and starts making a breathing treatment for me as she calls 911. I have had asthma attacks before, but this one was the worst. I wouldn’t have had the breath to even sneeze. Mom’s on the phone saying, “Please hurry. Her fingers and lips are blue. She is conscious -barely breathing. Yes, I gave her albuterol in the nebulizer. She’s doing it now, but I don’t think it is helping. Hurry!” I’m starting to get dizzy from the lack of oxygen. My temples are throbbing. Soon, I hear sirens as the ambulance pulls up to our apartment. The paramedics put a mask on my face and hold my arm as they give me shot of something. Typically, I am deathly afraid of needles, but right now I’m more afraid of death. The shot barely hurt. Nothing hurt as bad as my lungs and my throat. I hear them telling my mom that she will need to follow us to the hospital. I was a little afraid of being alone in the ambulance, but I didn’t have the breath told speak. Mom said she and Dad were right there and would meet me at the hospital. They woke up our downstairs neighbor to watch my siblings. Mom, Dad and the doctor were distressed. I could see them talking outside the glass doors, but their voices were muffled. I spent nine long hours in the emergency room and four days in the hospital. I knew I’d almost died. I could feel it. I am home now. I can breathe again, but I’m still scared of the dark. I know that breath is a gift.
December 25, 1995 – Christmas Day
I thought it wasn’t a great day at first and then it got better! The first line of “Little Women” echoed in my mind today. I’ve been reading through “Little Women” once a year since I was nine years old. Well, that first year Mom helped me by reading some of it aloud, but since then I keep reading through it once a year. We have presents, but it is hard to not get a bit jealous when our cousins come over and they are talking about all the cool things they got. Last year, Will asked me, “What did you get?” I said, “A candy bar, a cassette tape and a notepad.” “That’s it?” he asked with wide eyes. “Yep.” Christmas was tight this year. The past few years have been tight. I’m constantly reminded by my parents that money isn’t everything and that I need to be thankful to have a roof over my head. I am thankful, but is it wrong to wish for money? I don’t like being poor. I don’t like seeing my Mom figure out which bills are most important to pay because we can’t pay all of them at once. I don’t like seeing Mom and Dad stressed. I want a job like Jo March where I can write and help get the things we need and the things I want. Earlier this year, I told them I was going to save up for a fancy dress because I LOVE fancy clothes. I have a few copies of bridal magazines and I’m constantly admiring the dresses in there. The satin, the lace, the beads! I love it! Mom says, “That’s ridiculous. Where would you even wear something like that?” I don’t exactly know, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting dresses and wanting to go somewhere I can wear them. I think that stylish clothes can make you feel confident and pretty. When I grow up, I’m going to have lots beautiful dresses and go to magical places. Here’s where the day got better! Grandma gave us our presents this evening. Inside the box was a beautiful, teal dress! I’m so happy! I think Mom and Dad feel bad that I was so excited over Grandma’s present, but I’ve wanted something new for a long time and this is perfect! I don’t mind wearing hand-me-downs, but I love this new dress so much! I realized having money could make someone else’s dreams come true and I want to do that someday. I know that money is a gift.
January 1, 1997
I took a deep breath and turned 13 years old today! I want to write every day and not just when something good or bad happens. Normal now might not be normal later. My current normal consists of books, school, writing, chores and friends on the weekends. I am not allowed to go to friend’s houses by myself or take walks by myself because I might get kidnapped. I can’t date until I’m 18 years old because my parents forbid it. I can’t watch movies without Mom watching the movie first. I can’t listen to anything besides Focus on the Family and Christian music, but not rap because Mom hates rap. I must wear pantyhose and slip to church even when it is 110 degrees outside. I’m not allowed to talk back, but I can ask questions if I am prepared for an hour sermon from my parents about why the world is evil. I’m not allowed to read anything except Christian textbooks, but sometimes when people give us books, I sneak a few out of the stacks when Mom isn’t looking. When we went to see Aunt Jo, she and Mom talked for hours and hours. I sneak away into the sun-room and started reading books on Aunt Jo’s shelf. There’s so much that I don’t know, but I’m learning. I intend to keep learning and the only way I know to do that right now is to read everything I can get my hands on. Sometimes, when I’m at my friend’s house, I’ll borrow their books. I know that if I’m going to be somebody someday that I must read. I know that books are a gift.
March 6, 2001
I’ve been working at the bookstore for almost one year now! I love working in the middle of all the books and I’m learning so many things! I also did something crazy last week! I submitted an article about Louisa May Alcott to the local newspaper. They printed it today because Louisa May Alcott died today!!! In the article, I talked about remembering a great writer and the power of words. I was ecstatic to see my article in the paper. I know it is just a small, local newspaper, but I still feel like I accomplished something through writing and that makes my heart happy! If I can write something that will make one person think about something differently or feel encouraged, then I am honored. I know that writing is a gift.
May 19, 2008
I went to work like usual today. During lunch, I sat next door in our stockroom/office for the bookstore and sent a message to James. We’ve become great friends these past few months – messaging each other at least once a week. We aren’t dating. Honestly, I am a bit afraid of dating him because if we break up, I would hate for it to ruin the incredible friendship we have. I think he wants to ask me out though. I wouldn’t mind at all because I admire him. He’s been through a lot, but he is strong, a hard worker, and has the nicest blue eyes. I sent him a message this morning asking about his weekend and telling him about my weekend. He wrote back rather quickly and said, “Glad you had a good weekend. Please keep praying for us. My grandpa died last night.” I was saddened to hear this and James told me it was like losing a parent because his grandpa and grandma raised him for three years of his life. My heart hurt for him. After lunch, I started shelving books and someone came to counter to ask for help. While I was helping them, I looked up as the front door opened and James walked through. We made eye contact and communicated understanding with a glance. He walked over to the music station and put on headphones while I finished helping the customer. As soon as I was finished, I walked over towards him and he took off the headphones. I asked, “Are you okay?” “Not really,” he whispered. I walked into his arms and he held me incredibly close. He rested his cheek on my head. I could hear his heart beating and his breath shaking. Even though I hated that he was grieving, I loved that he came to me to seek comfort. I loved feeling of being encircled in his embrace. I felt like I belonged there forever, and I didn’t want it to end. I know that being held by someone is a gift.
May 13, 2010
I did it! I walked across the stage and shook the President’s hand as I received my MBA. I am extremely proud of my accomplishment. I’m the first woman in my mom’s side of the family to complete graduate school and the second to have attended a university. When I was younger, I witnessed many of our family members constantly struggling and were often abused. I don’t believe the two things are exclusive, but I knew that the more empowered one is to take care of oneself the less likely they feel trapped. I have family members who have never learned to drive. There are a few who haven’t finished high school. I always want to be able to take care of myself as long as I am able. I don’t want to depend on anyone in an unhealthy manner. As I walked across the stage, I was so proud of myself for staying dedicated. If I could finish this while working full-time then I feel like I can do anything! I know that education is a gift.
May 20th, 2017
Someone trusted me with a secret. The secret isn’t one that needs to be kept. I told this person (the witness) that and they agreed that it shouldn’t be kept a secret, but they were scared. I thanked them for trusting me with the information but assured them something had to be done because it was the law and there was a person in danger. The person agreed but wanted to be left out of the story. I told them as much as it was possible we could keep them (the witness) confidential and thankfully after being told the situation, we found multiple sources of digital evidence that the witness was telling the truth. My heart hurts, because I thought I knew the person – the perpetrator. I was entirely wrong and they had used their authority to coerce, connive, manipulate and abuse someone who was under their ”leadership”. I write this now after some reflection and I’m thankful the witness trusted me because we were able to intervene before the person was further hurt. I am thankful that we live in a day where we can speak up for people who are hurt and intervene. Our country has a long way to go before these things are resolved, but there are people who care. I know the power of MeToo.
January 1st, 2020
I’ve keep a journal for a long time now. I’ve used it as a form of entertainment as well as reflection. Upbringing, language, culture, personality, ethics, economic situations all play a pivotal role in how we process, learn and grow. Now that I have a baby, I’ve been thinking back on all of life’s critical moments and how they shaped me. I wonder what things will shape his life. How can I help him learn and grow? What do I want him to know about me? These are the questions that dash through my mind as I hold my baby close to my heart. He listens intently to my heartbeat. I look forward to the day where we can have these heart conversations along with many others.