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Counting My Lucky Stars

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In the vast expanse of the night sky, amidst the twinkling stars that whispered promises of endless possibilities, there was a guiding light that shone brighter than them all — my mother. Her words fueled my aspirations, her love buoyed my spirit, and her wisdom ignited a flame of resilience within me.

As a child in rural Texas, I frequently laid on my back, captivated by the stars above. To me, each twinkling star symbolized a moment in time — past, present, and future. I was mesmerized by the expansive night sky, envisioning boundless possibilities. Though unaware of what lay ahead, the starlit heavens seemed to hold immense promise for my future.

I also hold a lasting memory of my mother encouraging me, affirming that I possessed the ability to pursue any dream I desired. She believed that success was contingent upon dedication and hard work, rather than mere chance. While she refrained from dictating my exact path, she stressed the importance of approaching every worthwhile endeavor with fervor. Her wisdom proved to be profound yet putting it into practice was far more challenging than anticipated.

Sharing the following personal account is not easy for me, but if it happens to offer inspiration to others facing similar struggles, I will find solace in passing forward the kindness and support I’ve received. While I’ve always viewed myself as resilient in body, mind, and spirit, I’m not too proud to admit that life has a way of humbling us all.

The first significant event that humbled me in life occurred when my parents chose to divorce. Despite their apparent love for each other, I recognized from a young age the unhealthy and sometimes physically violent dynamics of their relationship. Divorce was not uncommon during that time, so I knew I wasn’t alone in facing this challenge. However, what truly devastated me was my father’s unexpected choice to abandon me and my younger siblings, both financially and emotionally. The pain of realizing that one of the most important people in my life no longer prioritized our well-being was incomprehensible.

After my parents’ divorce, a tumultuous period marked by emotional upheaval and uncertainty, I found solace and strength in my mother’s unwavering love and guidance. Despite the challenges we faced, her presence illuminated even the darkest moments, instilling in me a sense of hope for the future. Little did I know that her light would soon be extinguished, leaving me adrift in a sea of grief and loss. The sudden and unexpected tragedy of her passing shattered my world, leaving me to navigate the stormy seas of adolescence without her steady hand to guide me.

To add insult to injury my father chose my mother’s funeral to proclaim that he had no intention of taking responsibility for his now orphaned children. It seems my father had remarried and started a new family, so his heart and commitment lay elsewhere.  

My father intentionally abandoned me; my mother unintentionally abandoned me and with feelings of self-pity and unworthiness I chose to abandon myself. To say my early years were tough would be an immense understatement. I struggled mightily between self-pity and hopelessness. Unfortunately, I decided to manage these ill feelings by shutting down as opposed to reaching out. I probably should have sought professional help but being a young man of meager means and life experience, I chose to simply drudge through it. 

I eventually discovered that I wasn’t as isolated as I had convinced myself to be. When I finally opened myself up to accepting assistance from others, I encountered a multitude of supportive family and friends who were ready and willing to lend a hand. This support proved to be the genesis of much-needed change. With newfound hope and commitment, I formed a new path which has led to the immense state of happiness I find myself in today. So much went into this new trajectory but looking back I credit three key elements.

The first was recognizing that my future need not be tied to my past. That today is the only predictor of tomorrow; yesterday, good, or bad, is simply a historical note. Another crucial lesson I gleaned from separating myself from the past was remembering my mother’s counsel regarding the significance of inaction. She likened it to the notion that doing nothing with the expectation of change was akin to waiting for hunger to dissipate without eating.

The next step was to attain peace through forgiveness; I needed to forgive my father, my mother, myself, and even fate for the turbulent times they presented. Clinging to resentment served no purpose, and once I transcended the anger and self-pity, a heavy burden lifted from my shoulders. Embracing the power of forgiveness allowed me to start afresh and shape a new outlook on life.

Lastly, and I consider this to have had the most profound impact on my outlook, was the understanding that being loved necessitates loving others in return. It wasn’t a matter of incapability in my case; rather, due to my past experiences, I consciously restrained myself to mitigate potential pain from unforeseen endings. However, as I summoned the courage to open my heart, I experienced an immensely uplifting shift in my spirit.

I’ve reached an understanding that impermanence is an inherent aspect of existence; everything is subject to change. Additionally, I’ve recognized the detrimental nature of dwelling on past hardships or disregarding the present moment. Consequently, I strive to fully embrace the joys of each moment in the most profound manner possible. While this mindset may not prevent challenging times from arising, it undoubtedly helps safeguard against their ability to overshadow the bright potential of tomorrow.

As I gaze upon the stars now, I am reminded that even in the darkest of nights, there is a constellation of love, strength, and hope that guides us forward. So, on this Mother’s Day, as I honor the memory of my late mother, I also celebrate the journey of resilience, forgiveness, and love that has brought me to where I stand today. May her legacy of unwavering belief in the power of the human spirit continue to inspire and uplift those who find themselves navigating the vastness of life’s challenges. May we all, like the stars above, shine brightly with the promise of tomorrow, guided by the love that transcends time and space.

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