Just a few weeks ago, I had a phone conversation with my mother-in-law about my father and his improving health. I was on my own personal Cloud Nine. She was relieved and happy for me, but also said something that I had initially taken the wrong way. There was a lot more to our conversation, and she truly supports me in every way… but, all I heard at the time was:
He is good for today.
I didn’t want to hear that he was just good for today. I wanted to hear that he would be good forever. I wanted a guarantee that he would never be on the streets again. Selfishly, I just didn’t want to hear this because I couldn’t bear the heartbreak to see him cycle back to the streets again…
My mother-in-law has watched me grow for more than half of my life, and I have usually been pretty good about not responding impulsively if I don’t agree with something. But for whatever reason, I felt incredibly jarred by those words and took it the wrong way. I felt incredibly defense at the time, but I completely understand what she meant by it now.
The best I can do is appreciate the time I have with him today. I don’t think it really quite hit me until after meeting Malia. I watched a video that she shared on YouTube of her mother, specifically one where her mother was having a good day. The contrast between our parents’ good days and bad days are startling. All I could keep hearing in my head was:
I grew up like that, I grew up like that, I grew up like that…
There are all of these connections that are forming in my life right now… old conversations that are starting to make sense, people who I have known in different capacities now crossing paths because of this project, and I’m growing deeply at a personal level because of all of it. This is far greater than just one story about my father’s personal life, and my desire to help. This is really about our community and the people in it. My mother-in-law taught me the lesson of appreciating what I have now, and reminded me that my father battles a severe mental illness, but he is good for today. And on those days when he has mental clarity, I’ll join him in sharing a laugh and taking photographs together. Everyday is a challenge, everyday is an opportunity.
I hope that by continuing to share these stories, it helps to raise awareness in our community.