When I was little, my favorite time of day was when my grandpa and I would spend the evening together. After a long day at work on our ranch, the sky would be kissed with pink and orange hues and he would help me up onto the tailgate so we could watch the sun slip further away. Once the night came, the moon would come to say hello and shed more light across the land. The stars would appear and they were infinite. There was no city light to cancel out their glow.
At night, my grandpa would sing to me, and it was almost always his favorite song, Un Día a La Vez. For those of you who don’t know Spanish, it translates to “one day at a time.” No matter what came our way it was always, “one day at a time.” It’s these memories that I hold onto today. My childhood was surreal, because I had so much land to play on and explore. I was surrounded by the forest and nature’s love. My ranch was my heaven because there was always magic there, no matter where you turned. When I die, I want to go back to that place for the rest of eternity.
My grandpa used to tell me that it is important to remember where you came from. I know he didn’t mean, “you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” There was always so much more behind his words. While they were few, they were worth 1,000 lessons. It wasn’t until after he passed away that I realized what he meant.
Losing the man who raised me felt like my whole world was falling apart. In one day, I was torn away from my small town and moved to San Antonio, Texas. I was starting high school with thousands of people I was unfamiliar with, my father was dying, everything was so foreign to me. I didn’t have friends to talk to and I had to watch as my world slipped away like my grandpa’s life. There was so much culture shock and definitely a few melt downs. Now I divide my story into two, before San Antonio and after.
The moment I knew everything was going to be okay, I was on my way home from school. The bus had come really late and so the sky was already beginning to change color. As the scenery passed by, all I could focus on was the familiar pink and orange. The girl in front of me had turned around and introduced herself. She then asked, “Who are you?” I was slightly in shock because not a lot of people had talked to me before then. Being shy, I didn’t welcome a lot of conversation. My obvious answer was, “I’m Josie.” But in that moment my world completely still. Who was I really?
Was I the daughter of two drug addicts who couldn’t take care of her? The girl who had a mom who couldn’t fully love her. The girl who lost her mom to breast cancer at the age of 9 and was left with so many questions still flying across her mind. The girl who watched addiction tear her family apart. The girl who witnessed her cousin’s dead body, life taken away by heroin. The girl who was bullied. The girl who suffered with depression/anxiety and tried killing herself. The girl who self-inflicted. The girl who bowed down when things got hard. The girl who never felt good enough.
Or was I the daughter of the two beautiful human beings who adopted me? The girl who had seen so much suffering throughout her family and yet still persevered. The girl who got straight A’s and dreamed of helping the world. The girl who wanted to believe that there was more to life than what she had seen.
The truth is, I’m both of these girls. However, despite what punch life threw my way, I always persevered. Even when I bowed down, I got back up and swung back. I didn’t just survive. I turned everything into something worth growing from. No matter what came my way, I would always take it one day at a time and eventually kick it’s ass.
I now know that is it important to remember where you came from, because where you are going from there will be far better. This life is yours for the taking. Everyone has their story, hardships, life lessons. It’s a matter of recognizing that things do get better, but you also have to make them. Don’t let the negativity swallow you whole and just get by. Learn, grow, live life the way you want to. YOU are the author of your story.
So now I ask, who are you?