Note to Reader
This is a twelve month project which aims to bring to light the individual pain experienced by young women and to show how their unique stories make them who they are. We ask you to feel with an open heart and respect their stories.
I was born in South Carolina but I only spent three months there. Then I was brought to my grandmother in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which is about an hour south of Boston. I just turned thirty in June and I live in Jacksonville, FL. I was in Massachusetts all my life. I went to college in Boston, I lived in Boston after college for about a year, then I went back home for awhile, and then I moved to Jacksonville about seven years ago. I’ve been here ever since.
I had a real good childhood. I grew up around love. I grew up around my dad’s family. I didn’t grow up around my mom. It was my grandmom that raised me, my dad, and my step-mom; they showed me love. Especially since my mom wasn’t there, they extra compensated for that. On my dad’s side I have two younger brothers, my birth mom had two girls and a boy. So I have five siblings. I was happy. I was a good kid. I did what I needed to do and they allowed me to feel the success of that.
Now I’m recently self-employed. I took a leap of faith, left the cooperate world to go out on my own, and now I take on a bunch of projects. I help clients with their business, I Uber and Lyft on the side, I’m in the process of starting my own company, I work on a podcast, I work with a team that’s about to launch an app, I do all kinds of things that I creatively feel in my gut that I should do. But it’s definitely not what I thought I’d be doing when I was a kid. I saw my grandmom and mom as nurses in the medical field for a long time. I saw that and knew I wanted to help people, so it was always equated that to help people, you nurse.
So I went to school for nursing at first and then I changed midway to education. I wanted to help people and then I realized I wasn’t passionate about nursing. I worked in a hospital for years, taking that stuff home, it desensitized me, and you really have to have a heart for it. And I knew I wanted to help people but that wasn’t it. I wasn’t enjoying it, so I looked into more education and training and studied human development. That’s really my thing, people, and the psychology of people. So once I realized that you can help people by just being an influence to them and not necessarily physically having to do something to help them, I knew I could have an impact in a lot of other ways. So that’s what I’m doing now. I’m trying to find where my voice can be heard for people that I can help.
I’m trying to find where my voice can be heard for people that I can help.
My desire to help people, I think it came from seeing my grandmother and my mom as nurturers. They nurture and care about relationships and family. My family is oddly close. We are very transparent and raw. People from the outside can’t believe I can talk to my uncles, aunts, or dad the way I do, but it’s the same conversation I would have with my friends. An informative but maybe more intentional conversation and they have wisdom behind it rather than me and my friend trying to figure it out. So they’ve always opened the door for me to talk like that and the women in my family have always encouraged that. I always wanted to do for people what they’ve done for me.
I never felt that void until my grandmother passed.
When I think of pain, I think of my grandmother passing. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. It was the first time in my life that I felt like I had lost a mom. Especially since I didn’t grow up with a mom. I grew up with my dad, my step-mom was my step-mom, and my grandmother was my grandmother. So I always knew that my mom was this lady that I wasn’t around but I never had a void because of the love I got from my step-mom, my aunts, my grandmother. I never felt that void until my grandmother passed. That was a big shock to me and it took me awhile to deal with it. She was young too, she was in her early sixties. She had cancer, they give her six months, and that’s how long it was. So it was a quick, daunting process seeing her go through hospice. But you get through it. I don’t think you ever get over it but you learn to appreciate her soul more. I feel as connected to her as I did when she was here because I realized the things she taught me weren’t gone even though she wasn’t physically here.
She passed my sophomore year in college, so in ’07. She was in and out of the doctor’s. She had some stomach issues and they thought it was her gallbladder at first. Then they went through that process but then they found the cancer and she started chemo. The cancer was really progressive. It was in her pancreas, so it spread quickly. I guess that’s a really hard cancer, so they diagnosed her, and it quickly became accepted at that point. Another thing that made me want to help people was the hospice nurse. I have never seen someone who isn’t a family member care for someone else like the hospice nurse did. So I saw that and thought, “I want to make that impact but not in that way.” Because she didn’t just help my grandmother, she helped the family understand the stages of death, and that’s what really helped us get through it. Because when she passed it was sort of a relief and not like it was “the end”. “The end” was when she was diagnosed, then when went through the process of accepting it and understanding it, so when she passed it was like, “Okay, that’s what needed to happen.” So it was better to see her not suffer at that point.
At first I went through the process of “why her?” but I feel like you just never know. Everything happens for a reason and as quick as you come can be as quick as you go. So I had no choice but to accept it because it was reality. The more I didn’t live in reality, the harder it would’ve been for me personally. I felt like if she were here she would be like, “Uh, I need you to get it together!” So I just figured I would get it together. I felt like as long as I stay in touch with who she was, you could never tell me she was gone because I still feel connected to her.
To read part two of Christina's story, click here.