November 20, 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of my second open heart surgery.  This is a milestone my family and I looked forward to. A commemoration of how I defied the odds set against me.  An opportunity to reflect on the blessings and lessons learned throughout my life.  Most importantly, a time to say thank you GOD for the gift of life in all of its trials and triumphs.  I am most grateful.

The adage “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” reverberates through my mind.  The emergence of the coronavirus changed life and plans for everyone. I was no exception. I had plans for my 20th year celebration which included spending time with my mother and father, the two people I admire most.  My reason for being, my joy is their joy.  Every achievement is a testament to the foundation they set, the love, faith and discipline they personified, an indomitable will, a strong support system and stellar medical care.

Heartbreakingly, God had other plans for my 20th year anniversary.  He called my mother home on September 20th of this year.  The number 20 surfaces yet again.  After a courageous battle of injury and illness, my mother departed this earthly realm peacefully in the presence of her family.  I am thankful to have had the privilege of being with my mother as she took her last breath.  As prayers went forth and songs of praise were delivered, I felt the presence of God. Momentarily, there was a deafening aura of peace that transcended my human understanding.  Immediately after, my heart shattered in one million pieces as I witnessed my beloved mother leave this life.  Instantaneously I was initiated into a club that I did not want to embrace.  As I sat with my mother, staring at her still body, my tears and screams reached a crescendo. 

I cogitated for months attempting to reconcile the number 20 and the significance it has in my life. Here is my summation. Biblically, the number 20 symbolizes a cycle of completion.  It speaks to a perfect period of waiting.  My mother reached her cycle of completion on September 20th.  The something good waiting for her was a crown of righteousness and eternal life. She was rewarded for fighting the good fight.  She honored her covenant with God and was given rest for her many years of labor.

  November twentieth, of two thousand twenty culminates my cycle of trial and reward.  I diligently persevered through two decades of massive change and immense loss. Still I stand.  A beautifully broken mosaic, I am the sum total of all my parts.  That is worth saluting.  In addition, my spirit feels the blessings that will continue to pour into my life.  I am on the path to victory.  My mother spoke greatness into my being the moment I entered the world.  She held on and fought until her spirit confirmed I was prepared to forge ahead.  I struggled to let go then and I am struggling now, yet onward I march.   It is what she wanted for me and it’s God’s plan for my life.  Trapped in the wilderness, the path to the other side is hazy. What I know for sure is that I have the faith of a mustard seed, the character of my mother and the favor of God.  She has armed me with the tools necessary to endure.  In my arsenal are love, faith, hope, resilience, legacy, purpose, family, friends and community.

In closing, the year 2020 will be reflective of all I’ve gained and my most devastating loss.  As I prepare to cross the proverbial “bridge over troubled waters”, the number 20 challenges me to employ faith, face trials courageously, revel in every triumph and walk proudly into my destiny.  I am the dream of my mother and she was everything I aspire to be.    “Mommy, Happy 20th to us. I honor the life I have and the life you lived. You made every step of my journey worthwhile. I love you so much and I will take it from here.”

Teresa and her mother dressed to the nines