Sunday, November 1, 2009

Laura Bell-Burkett

Per my first post, I decided that my first few posts easing back into the blogging world were going to be about the strongest women I know; because blogging about these women help me remember what true, feminine strength is... and if they can come out stronger in the end, then sure as heck... I will not only get through this, but will come out on top. Am I a feminist? Absolutely not... but I believe in women having their own backbone, aside from men. I believe in women being confident in who they are and what they are capable of aside from being attached to someone else. Individual strength... it's not a character trait that many women have today.

I thought long and hard about the first woman I wanted to feature. I have a few other women that I will blog about as well, so I won't give it away as to who else I will write about. You'll have to check back for that. Without further ado though, I will introduce my first Woman of Strength:
Beautiful, isn't she? She actually looks very similar to my mother and other 2 aunts. As I sit here and stare at this picture, tears sting my eyes because I can't imagine the personal turmoil that this woman has faced.

Rewind 35 years ago and you find yourself in 1974. Sixteen yr old Laura Bell, still a child herself found herself pregnant with her first, a little boy she named Michael. Against all odds that she would make it in life with a baby at 16, she kept the baby and worked harder for this boy than any 16 yr old should ever have to. Never once did she enroll in the state's welfare program. She married, but sometimes two "wrongs" don't make a right... and Laurie found that she was better off raising Michael alone.

Fast forward a few years and Prince Charming came prancing into her life, only to sweep her off her feet and give her 3 more beautiful babies- Tracey, Jason and Abby. Although life was hard and money was tight, Laurie had her family. Ten years later, she found that marriage doesn't live on love alone, and what was once marital bliss ended in brokenness.

Here's Laurie, 4 children {one of whom is autistic} and single without even a high school diploma. You wanna talk about "odds being against you"?? But she pressed on knowing that tears would never provide food, a roof over her children's heads or clothes on her kid's backs. Tears would never pay bills, get homework done or clean a home.

More so now than before and against all odds that a woman in this situation would ever be capable of staying on top financially and emotionally, much less further her education, Laurie worked her tail off as a waitress to not only provide a clean, loving home and food for her 4 children, but also somehow managed to put herself through school to get her 4 year nursing degree to provide a better income and future for her family. Through the seven years that it took her to do it, she sacrificed to provide a life for her children- her own pride, her dignity, her money, herself... all for the sake of her children. Selfless love.

Fast-forward again many more years into 2008. Life had its ups and downs between the years. She married a wonderful and patient man named Craig, Michael {her oldest son} had married a beautiful woman and was the father to her 3 handsome grandbabies; her oldest daughter graduated from a reputable college; her youngest son was engaged to an amazing woman and Abby brought sunshine on a cloudy day. Because of every situation that this woman has faced up until this point, Laurie, only in her 50s can already be called a strong woman who came out on top.

But that's not it.

November 10, 2008.

Life as Laurie had come to know it came to a screeching halt. In the blink of an eye, her baby boy was taken. "Not Michael... not my Michael," were the words that she screamed repeatedly when the haunting news was revealed. Devastation. Anger. Hurt. Pain. Disbelief. Is it possible to put a word on the feelings that this woman felt during those moments and grueling days to follow?

The weeks to follow brought even more devastation that no one should have to deal with after the loss of a child- afterall, you're not supposed to live longer than your children. Her grandbabies were safe, but backs were turned within the family after nothing but love had been offered to a hurting family. The loss is almost unbearable to think about, much less live through.

Time. Time is the only thing that can heal such deep wounds... and until you have suffered a great loss that is out of your control such this, you won't understand. There is no human and there are no words that can fix or heal the pain. Some days you get out of bed... and other days you don't. You realize that there is no rewind, fast-forward or pause button to life. It keeps going on no matter how much you beg for it not to; morning still comes after sleep.

This is a woman who sat on the couch with me for hours and told me to my tear-stained, sorrow-eyed face: it doesn't matter why it happened to you, it's how you're going to handle it. "It is what it is and life goes on. The situation is out of your control, but how you handle it is in your control. Sometimes it's about pickin up the pieces in your Red High Heels.

I could go on for pages about this woman and her courage and strength and the trials that made her the woman she is today. After all the pain and hurt, she still loves with all she has. I don't understand why this woman has had to face as much pain as she has... but I do know that my Aunt Laurie is strength in human form.

{with her baby, Mike}


{ Emily } said...

Ema, this is such an incredible story, and such a great example of your writing ability! I've always loved sharing people's personal stories, and I've been dying to start doing something similar to this when I get some spare time. Keep it up- it's both inspiring and touching.

Jules said...

wow! tears. such an inspiration. I love stories of strong women. You're blessed to have an aunt that's overcome so much and is willing to sit and chat with you.

TraceyLeigh said...

Thank you, Ema, for this post. She is a strong woman who lives by an impenetrable moral code. Her love knows no bounds and I cannot believe I was lucky enough to be born to her. I just wish that some day I could be a fraction of the woman and mother that she is. I love my MOMMY!

Elizabeth Marie said...

Oh this! She's the kind of woman I hope to be one day. :)