When I was sixteen, my mother died. It was June 27, 2017. This sense of disbelief washed over me. It seemed so ludicrous; mothers don’t die before their children, or so we convince ourselves. Yet, it was so. I was informed over the phone that she had been found in a dumpster, presumably after a drug exchange went awry. I knew my mom struggled with addiction, but I never fathomed she would perish as a result of it. I was only 16. The sense of regret for the lost conversations, unrecoverable moments of future celebrations, and the loneliness of not having my mother to confide in were nearly unbearable on their own. It is a grief I still feel at times, and one I would never wish upon anybody. The weight of her loss added to my reality after her passing is insurmountable.
My father was homeless, without finances, and unable to provide for me after my mom passed away. No one planned for her passing, so there was no life insurance or other resources to support me. I wish there had been. Ultimately, I was left on my own. I was fortunate enough to have family friends that let me stay with them, but it wasn’t always so. A year after my mother’s passing, while I was a junior in high school, I was deemed ‘homeless unaccompanied youth’ by my county. I found odd jobs to pay for food and bus fare to school most days, but it was arduous. I recall the wrenching sensation of hunger. The chilling sensation in my bones from the wintertime. The wetness of the snow seeping through the canvas of my shoes. The loneliness and instability ate at me every day.
I felt exhausted to my core. Despite the hopeless nature of my situation, it never occurred to me to drop out. It would have been easier, but I knew that I wanted to improve my life. To have a career where I could pay into life insurance to protect my future family from experiencing this. So I petitioned to do independent study and managed to earn my credits even if I couldn’t attend class every day. I didn’t know how I was going to get through it, but there was no other option in my mind.
If my mother had life insurance coverage, I wouldn’t have faced such hardships. I would have had a safe, stable home to finish high school. I would have had money set aside to pursue a Bachelor’s without worrying about the cost. I would have felt safe. I now know the importance of life insurance. It is more than finances, it’s security to ensure your children have the means to succeed in life. If I’m awarded the Life Lessons scholarship, I will use it to pay for my tuition as I continue my education at the University of California, Davis. As a result of my education I hope to open a business of my own; a childcare facility where I can have a positive influence on children and find fulfillment in giving back. I have fought to get this far and would be endlessly grateful to have the financial burden of tuition lessened. Thank you for taking the time to consider my application.
Just when I thought things were starting to get better, my life took a turn for the worst. My mom and I had just moved from Colorado to Alabama to start fresh. We had a nice apartment, I was looking at colleges, and we had each other. I thought it was as good as it gets until one morning I woke up and found my mom had taken her own life. On the night of July 26th, 2020 I said “I love you” to my mom not knowing it would be the last. In the blink of an eye, my life completely changed. I was completely alone in a new state. I was my mom’s only child, my parents were divorced, and all my family lived back in Colorado. My dad flew down to Alabama to help me get back to Colorado and once back in my home state he told me I couldn’t live with him. The only person I thought would help me get through this hard time had now told me I had to figure it out on my own since I’m an adult.
My mother was never one to save money and it was obvious during this time. She only had a couple hundred in her savings account and she didn’t have life insurance. Since I was her next of kin, I had to handle all of the financials. I lost my car and my phone because they were both under her name. I started working part-time at a doggie daycare and a Crocs outlet near me. They didn’t give me a lot of hours, but they were jobs. I lived with my brother until he got drunk and kicked me out. Then my friend’s mom let me stay with them for as long as I needed. I was grateful for the offer, but I felt like a burden. During this time I got in contact with my birth mom, Sarah. (I was adopted when I was born.) She became my family. She offered me a permanent place to stay.
I moved to a different state to live with someone who showed me love and kindness when I needed it most. I didn’t think going to college was ever going to be an option again. I had too many other financial obligations to worry about at this time. Sarah encouraged me to go back to college and get a degree in something I love. She helped me find schools, financial aid, and scholarships like this one so I didn’t go into more debt or pay for school out of my own pockets. Now I’m focused on getting my degree in Computer Science, something I loved in high school. I hope to one day program prosthetic limbs for those wounded in battle. I want to help them succeed in life and everything they do. This has not been an easy journey. I miss my mom every day. If she’s looking down on me, I hope she’s proud.