PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Today, resiliency is five families coming together for vacation as my mother-in-law battles terminal cancer.
Going back, it was not getting served at restaurants because my mom was white and my dad was black. Then, it was my parents telling my brother and I that we were thought of as different due to the color of our skin. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I finally understood what that meant, because I realized I would have to tell my daughter something similar - three decades later.
Resiliency is watching your grandparents pass away due to the lack of affordable and accessible healthcare.
It’s going through and dealing with the aftermath of a divorce. You're told it's not your fault, but you’re still at the center of the storm.
You’re choosing which house to invite friends to, Mom or Dad? Who do you spend the holidays with? Who do you see first when you come back into town? Or, who don’t you see?
Resiliency is growing up with three moms. It’s a long story, but since you’re here…
My mom and dad were married and had two kids. At 11, our parents told us they were getting divorced. At 15, my mom told us she was a lesbian and always had been. My brother and I looked at each other, said okay and asked what was for dinner - hah! We were immediately supportive and recognized what it took for her to open up and tell us the truth.
My mom and dad are both remarried, and they are the happiest I have seen them. That’s how I grew up with three moms, but the story of my resiliency doesn’t end here.
Resiliency is getting calls from your brother at 2:00 a.m. because he thinks he is overdosing.
It’s watching someone you love battle drug addiction and wondering if you did or said everything right. It’s wondering if you were there when you needed to be.
It’s waiting for the call, every day for 15 years, that says your brother lost his fight with addiction. It’s having to be okay with every single text or call knowing it could be the last.
Fast forward to the vacation, resiliency is knowing this is the last vacation we will have as a whole family.
It’s the canceled lunch and dinner plans because the cancer is too painful.
It’s holding your mother-in-law’s arm so she can walk around a bit easier or sit down without falling.
Resiliency is watching sisters and brothers try to hold back tears. Then, it’s holding hands as we all cry together.
It’s the 5:00 a.m. wake up, because your mother-in-law was going to the emergency room.
It’s ending our vacation in the hospital waiting room with dozens of questions on the way forward.
Resiliency can be getting injured as an athlete, your health, your race, test anxiety, being assaulted, harassment, car accidents, depression, or a number of other things.
Resiliency has taught me a lot in my life. Each lesson preparing me for the next.
I wanted to share my story as a company grade officer to start the path for anyone else to do the same.
It’s one thing to have an open-door policy, but it’s another to let people in.
In loving memory of my mother-in-law.