My New Neighbor
**My neighbor has not been photographed by me but her story touched my heart. I felt it needed to be shared sooner than later. Despite these images not being of her I still hope her story will serve and uplift you** "We're all survivors," my new neighbor told me this afternoon as she looked out over our property.
She'd just told me that she'd been in foster care since she was 6 months old and while she occasionally met her mother her relationship with her, and what it could have been, was brutally cut short when my neighbor's mother was beaten to death by her boyfriend.
Friend, take a deep breath.
That was heavy stuff to read. I get it. It was heartbreaking to hear. Stories like this always hit hard.
So, deep breath.
What's amazing is I would have never known. My neighbor is delightful! She is funny and irreverent and always cheerful. She talks about her love for her children and grandchildren as she counts the days till she sees them again. Telling stories of them makes her laugh as she reminisces of days in the past. But it's not all just about her. She chats with my children on her front porch and listens to their thoughts about trains, painting, and bikes. Then she tells me what wonderful children they are and how thankful she is to have us as neighbors.
My neighbor is not a woman who lives as though her childhood was burdened with heartbreaking affliction. She is a woman who somehow grew from the trauma and distress. She used her heartbreak as inspiration to be the best mother she could be. She continues to do everything in her power to keep her children from experiencing the loss she faced alone as a child. Bitterness and resentment are not a part of her character. Sorrow and regret don't hang over her like a grey cloud. My neighbor lives as a woman who has grown beyond her devastating beginning and is actively working hard to create the best, most joy-filled ending to her story.
We're all survivors.
With this, I agree, but I would not classify my neighbor as a survivor.
Sometimes people get stuck just surviving . . . that's not her.
Champion, now there is a more accurate word.
My neighbor is a champion over trauma, loss, betrayal, abuse, suffering, and constant displacement because she grew beyond the life she was handed. She drew a crapy set of cards but she played them like a master and made the pain into something beautiful.
She is a loving mother even though she never had one.
She is an exceptional homemaker and hostess despite never being given a home.
She is kind even though kindness was not common in her life.
And she is a welcoming friend even though she doesn't have to be.
No, I would not describe my neighbor as a survivor. She grew beyond that word a long time ago.
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If you have tips or concerns about human trafficking happening in your area call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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