Based only on this picture of a very happy birthday girl, who just turned 25, you would never guess that for a long time I stopped believing I would ever celebrate a 25th birthday. After a while even I stopped caring if I didn’t. And I actually started to pray that my life would be taken so I didn’t have to be the one to make the decision to stay…or to leave.
That decision that tempted me for an entire summer while I cried myself to sleep next to a night stand with five different high-dose prescription narcotics. The bottles where full, I barely weighed 70 pounds, and it was the easiest “out” anyone who has given up could hope for. I was sixteen years old and already four years deep into unimaginable suffering and disease. I was broken; inside and out. On the outside it was my back that was broken, along with a list of other pains and disease. But the brokenness on the inside was worse. I was convinced that God had forgotten me. For years I had wept for His help until I could weep no more. The kind of grief stricken weeping that pours directly from your heart. Yet, my suffering only increased while my hope decreased. I was ready to meet my Maker and get some answers about His (imagined) cruel abandonment. The pain wasn’t worth living with anymore and those prescription bottles told me every night that I could tap out…. at least that was until morning came. In the the morning my parents tiptoed in the kitchen making their coffee while I slept in the living room on my special order hospital bed. Despite their careful, quite movements, I stirred awake. And I lay there, eyes closed, listening to them as they sat down and started talking…talking about me. ‘How can we help Mariah? What is best for Mariah? How can we cure Mariah? How can we SAVE our daughter?‘ Morning after morning. They talked of nothing else while they sipped their coffee. Their mission was to give me my life back and so my every thought of sabotaging their efforts evaporated. I wouldn’t do it for myself, the pain was still stealing my hope of recovery and sanity, but I could stay for them, no matter how much it hurt. I closed my eyes on those bottles and I decided to stay. But even more importantly, I knew I would never ask myself that question again. My mind was made up, my choice was made from that moment on. For a time, staying was the hardest and most painful decision I’ve made, until ultimately it made space for healing and hope to happen, which resulted in it also being the best and wisest decision I’ve ever made.
I learned years later that the morning whispers of love and salvation where more than just my parents’ voices, they were whispers from my God. I was never abandoned by Him, I was saved by Him and by the love He has for me and the love He placed in the hearts of my parents. They all fought FOR me, until I was ready to join in the fight and light up this life of mine.
And that is the story of how I came to blow out 25 candles on September 17th, 2017.