“As I walked through the store, I couldn’t help but stop and gaze at the necklaces on display. It was nearly Mother’s Day and the shelves were lined with delicate reminders of the children I carried and care for each day. Gold, silver, rose gold, and platinum glimmering below the lights. As I sized each one up, I found myself hoping this year would bring a small gift box wrapped by my children.
‘You never wear jewelry. Why are you looking at that?’ He snapped, annoyed I hadn’t finished my shopping yet.
My heart sank and nervousness settled in. ‘I thought these were cute. Look at the one with “Nana” on it. Wouldn’t that be great for your Mom?’
‘I’m not buying her a necklace. I’m not buying you one either.’
‘It was just an idea. Let’s get this stuff and get out of here.’
It’s been numerous years since I last walked a store with him, yet this time of year takes me back in time. I see the beautiful necklaces carefully displayed to celebrate the selflessness of a mother for her child. I think about the sacrifices I made to keep the peace. More so, I reflect on the ultimate sacrifice my children have made in losing their innocence of childhood because one man believed he owned us all.
In 2016, I loaded my children into a vehicle with two 30-gallon totes filled with clothes, a few sentimental items, and our dog to begin a new life over 1,000 miles away. As I made the most dangerous drive of my life, I promised my children we would struggle and fight, but in the end, we would have a wonderful life. Our journey has been every bit what I promised it would be; homelessness, hunger, fear, and deep anger met us at points. As those struggles gave way, we found hope, joy, peace, love, and stability.
This year, as I walked in a store, I found myself smiling as I gazed at the necklaces carefully displayed. I purchased my first ones only a month ago. My collection, albeit small, is growing. This year, I hope for a jewelry box from my children because I’m not just purchasing pieces, I’m wearing them well.’
| Ava Bell |
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Note from Janna: The hope Ava Bell felt leading into Mother’s Day — or a birthday, or wedding anniversary — is something relatable to many of us. So, then, is the disappointment once the holiday comes and goes, with no warmth, gratitude, or special gesture from the partner to whom our efforts (and mere existence) should matter a great deal.