I was contemplating whether or not to tell my truth. It’s easy for people to recreate themselves to be whomever they choose to be. I've always been a pretty strong person, at least so it appeared. See it's always been very important to wear a smile, but how many of you know how to recognize the pain behind the smile? Well let me tell you how. The real story is in the eyes. The eyes show excitement, sadness, intensity, anger and joy. When I was growing up, my parents gave me a really good life. They showed me love, commitment, responsibility, the importance of education, a solid self image, emotional stability, solid morals and values, and a spiritual foundation. I was happy growing up. I had everything that a child could want and more. As I got older, I realized that life was not a fairytale. As I transitioned into my teenage years, one of the worst things that could happen to a young girl happened to me. My mother, my role model, the designated parent to propel me into my womanhood was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I soon came to realize that the things she wanted to do progressively became too difficult for her, if not impossible. I still had my dad, but he was the financial backbone of the family, so he was often working, and besides, what in the world was he gonna say to this developing teenage girl, with raging hormones, a grown up body and alot of doggone questions? He did his best with the fundamental stuff, but, let's keep it real, there were many things that I just needed my mother for. As I moved into my womanhood, my mom's illness became more and more debilitating. My sense of responsibility increased because she needed much more assistance. I was about to complete high school and I thought that this would be a way for me to escape the reality of watching my mother exist in a world that she no longer recognized. My heart was breaking. I ended up staying in Baltimore to go to college and I was bitter. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't mad at my parents, but I was mad at the fact that my fairytale of a life was never authentic. I'm telling you, life can throw you some hard blows that seen so unfair. One of the toughest situations for me occurred during my pregnancy with my greatest achievement, my son. Although my picture perfect picket fence life was not turning out the way I'd planned, during this time, I was happy. I was about to have a beautiful, bouncing baby boy. I was 24, about to graduate from college, and even though my mom was sick, she and my dad both were still here. I had an amazing pregnancy with no complications and I was beautiful. Anybody that knows me knows how much I love my hair and pregnancy makes your hair even more stunning. I was getting ready, I had a beautiful baby shower and I was excited. On April 4th,1997, my dad left for work. During this time my mom's condition had progressed to point where she needed in home nursing care. Once the nurse arrived, I prepared myself to leave for class. The phone rang and it was the hospital. They informed me that there had been an incident of some sort and that I needed to get there as soon as possible. I was nervous, and besides, I don't like surprises, good or bad. I remember speeding down 695, confused about how to get to St. Agnes Hospital, so I stopped for gas and directions and realized that I was right around the corner. When I arrived at the entrance of the emergency room, I was greeted by the clergy person and I was mortified. I was taken into a very quiet and serine room, then shortly after my uncle Jr. arrived. At this point, I was nervous and afraid. The clergy person left for a few moments and we were both quiet. At that point, I knew that something was very wrong. When the clergy person arrived, they informed us that at 12:01 p.m. my dad, my hero, passed away due to complications from a massive heart attack. Everything went silent. I just remember screaming no, no, no, but I couldn't hear my own voice. At about 37 weeks pregnant, I ran into the lobby and was greeted by a very close childhood friend, Sherwand, who was a nurse there at the time. For a brief second, I was at peace. Just seeing her reminded me of a time in my life when I was happy and I felt safe. When I left the hospital, I felt like everything was moving in slow motion. How was I gonna tell my family, especially my mother? How was I gonna tell my dads siblings, nieces and nephews who adored my dad, that he was gone? The biggest question was, how was I supposed to live without the person who helped create the foundation for my existence? I was about to have a boy, his grandson, and he was excited about his arrival. My expectation was for my dad to be there. I was angry with God. I felt like I was being punished. See my dad was great man who accomplished many things and I was depending on him to pass down his legacy to my son. Four days later, I developed a severe case of preeclampsia. Those of you that don't know what this is, it's a condition that affects the blood pressure of pregnant women, and in some cases can be fatal. My neighbor, who was an R.N., literally saved my life. During the planning of my dads funeral I was told that I needed to immediately go to the GBMC. My neighbor had already contacted my doctor and gave them my blood pressure reading. It was so high that she wouldn't even tell me. This was the worst possible time for pregnancy complications because it was the day of my dads viewing. My aunt Pat was the designated driver, so in traffic, during Tuesday evening rush hour, we headed down 695 to the hospital. As I approached labor and delivery, the doctors began prepping me for an emergency c-section. Of course I called me best friends, Yolanda, Alagra, and Keisha to come to the hospital. Soon after, my sons father arrived from Laurel. When I came to, I had a beautiful, healthy baby boy, but I was still in grave danger. My blood pressure was still dangerously high. All I kept thinking about was my mom and how she was holding up at my dads viewing. After spending 5 days in the hospital, IV's in both arms, black and purple bruises covering each, I soon realized that my fairytale was turning into a nightmare. As my son was growing up, motherhood was wonderful. I loved raising him and every single stage was amazing. I had a very smart kid. He was a happy, handsome little boy and everybody loved him. Life had many ups and downs for several years. My mom was still holding on. She amazingly kept smiling, no matter what she endured. I never could understand her strength eventhough her physical ability had been diminished. She loved to watch my son, Kheelen, as he grew up, as all grandparents do. He loved his Nana. He understood her physical limitations and as a young child, he was very compassionate. On August 15th, 2011, after a long battle with multiple sclerosis, God called my beautiful angel home. Honestly, she was one of strongest people I've ever known. I never understood how she could smile in the face of adversity when it seemed like life had cheated her so badly. Remember, I said your eyes tell the story and I could tell when she was getting tired of fighting. The hardest thing that I've ever done was to watch her take her last breath. Honestly, I felt like a part of me died with her. See, life is unpredictable and sometimes it's not fair, but I've come to realize that we must count all of our blessings, big and small because we never know when and from which direction the "blows" may come.