The Birthday Orphan

My birthday. The anniversary of the day I was born. 19 years ago, I became my own person. I left my mother’s womb, and began a life that continues to this day.

I’m thinking about February 5, 1997. Not just how I was born, but the entire world at that time. My grandparents were still years away from their demise. My mother had little more than three years left. My sisters were 16 and 10, respectively (now 35 and 29).

I was born to a mother whom I feel I loved dearly, but cannot remember. I was born to a father who never understood me in any stage of my life (doesn’t really surprise me).

And the shortcomings of my parents were the things that I had to give to myself. Self-love, peace, a sense of confidence, of being comfortable in my own skin.
My grandparents were too old to give me guidance on “the workplace” or about self-love. They didn’t even know the latter.
The final years of Gogo and Gramp taught me that even our greatest heroes are only human; they go through everything, they suffer from failures of morality, disappointments, heartbreak, and the next shitty thing.
Perhaps that’s what makes them heroes- the fact that they’re able to make an orphaned 3-year old in 2000 see all the wisdom of the world in their eyes.

They say “you don’t remember days, you remember moments”. The moments I remember aren’t winning awards for my academic achievements, or entering poetry competitions (heck, I got published less than a week ago, and I barely even remember that!)
The moments that will always be a part of me are when I suckled Gogo’s milkless breast, and felt closer to a human being than I’ll ever feel. Then there’s talking about the stars with Gramp, and feeling as if I was talking with the wisest man on earth.

When they both died, and I had to (literally) carry the cross of being orphaned yet again. Only, I was never an orphan. They were my parents. They might’ve been old-school, they might’ve been ill-equipped to handle the complexities of my teenage years…but they raised me. With love, respect, and…fear. For better or for worse.

And I’m now 19 years old. The final 364 days ahead are the final 364 days of my teenagedom. And while I’m living with my aforementioned father, I’ve never felt more deserted.

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