The girl I once was is the daughter of a fiery Polish woman. That girl arrived at each ballet recital, band practice and volleyball game with her head held high and left the same way because that is what she was taught. She was wild at heart and asked too many questions.
The girl I once was looked a lot like my daddy and had my mother’s personality. Her imagination was endless. And so were her words.
I’ve thought a lot about that girl recently. The girl I was in this picture. And the woman holding me.
In that photograph is the girl I once was. And the mother I loved and lost. And the story of us captured in a single moment.
To understand me better you have to understand who she was. My mother was born in New York in 1958 to a woman who dealt with manic depression and emotional detachment issues. Her mother was emotionally abusive. I saw it myself once. And it rattled me. That encounter also told me that this woman and my mother didn’t have much in common. You see, I found an old journal of my moms recently. She wrote letters to me when I was still a baby. She wrote about how she worked hard to break the cycle of women in her family shaming their daughters. She wanted her relationship with me to be different. She wanted me to feel loved, supported and encouraged in all that I did. My mother found the strength from within to be an example to me in a way that she had to create. It wasn’t something that was modeled to her.
Eighteen years ago she suddenly passed away and every single day since she has held a special place in my heart and is on my mind constantly. When she died, I feel like I lost a piece of who I am. But as I grieve the girl I was, I also continue on, striving to become more and more the woman I am meant to me.
I’m the woman I am today because of her. I’m fiery, stubborn, creative, passionate, a mama bear if you mess with my family. I’m a dreamer and I thrive when others are thriving. So much of who I am is who she was.
And one day, my own daughter will be told stories about her grandmother, I’ll be honored to say that the woman she was and the woman I am now (and becoming more and more of each day) are similar in countless ways.