My mother always had a copy of this poem hanging in our home while I was growing up. Even though I didn’t understand the words until after my mother passed when I was 23, I always had a sense that single piece of paper hanging in the back corner of the kitchen was a symbol of hope and defiance. Our family was trapped in intergenerational cycles of violence, mental illness, addiction, and poverty. My mother’s mother died when she was 16 and her abusive father wouldn’t let her leave.
Despite such tragedy, my mother’s heart and strength endured. These words were her mantra. I have kept very few things from my childhood, but that copy of my mother’s poem now hangs in my office.