There is a photo of me, at 1 year old, smiling -- no, beaming -- at my mother. In front of me is a cupcake with a glowing candle stuck into its middle. I'm wearing a pointed party hat and there is a balloon tied to my high chair. I'm happy. I didn't realize then that I had someone to thank for that moment, but I do now.
34 years ago, someone gave me a birthday. She, just a wee 16-year-old, struggled through nine months of annoying pregnancy things mixed up with horrible life things and wrote a letter to her fetus. That was me. She told me of things I wouldn't understand until later, and as I read her words today, I realize that unlike many, she knew that I was a somebody.
Most of the people around her calmly, lovingly told her that they would completely support her decision to terminate the pregnancy. No one needed to be that strong, they urged. "Why," they begged, "would you do this to yourself, to your life?!" Her family gave up on her. Her sweet but scared boyfriend left. I probably kicked her in the kidneys, but on she fought.
On the day that I was born, she held me for a while. We were together, and I'd made it to my birthday. "Be strong, my little one." she whispered, and she called me Megan. Seventeen days later, I was resting in the arms of my loving and unbelievably happy parents. They've been my Mom and Dad ever since; sacrificing for me, loving me and teaching me, amongst many things, the beauty of gratitude. She tells me that the day she left me at the hospital, she cried until she was empty, and then began her journey back into the path of her life. She finished growing up and went on to happily raise a family of her own. She is an accomplished artist. She is loved by many.
Heroes come in many forms. Mine is a 16-year-old girl who chose life for me in the face of those who said that it would have been OK not to. It's difficult not to fall to my knees daily, with all the tears of gratitude I have for her choice, mixed together the deep rooted sadness that so many people in this world would have been OK with my death. It's difficult not to continuously talk about how grateful I am to be here. It's difficult to know that many people aren't making it to their birthdays.
As Mother's Day approaches, the beauty of her choice is not lost on me. Thank you doesn't seem like enough, so I try my best to make the most of each moment, and I never take this life for granted. Thank you for letting me see the ocean, thank you for letting me run into the arms of my Daddy, thank you for the chance to love a dog, thank you for letting me feel the joy of being a mother. Thank you for my birthday.