by Guest Blogger Alissa Kemp:

Everyone has a mom, that’s a fact. But the question is; can everyone have a mom as supportive and amazing as mine? For two years I was living with a cold outer shell and I could not have gotten through without my mom. She was the most important figure in life that helped shape me into the person I am today. I love my mom.

I’m going to take it back a few years. It was seventh grade and I had just discovered I had scoliosis. “Your spine is curved at a forty-five degree angle. You’re going to have to wear a back brace for at least a year, maybe more,” Jose, my doctor told me one afternoon. I was stunned. What will it feel like? What will it look like? Will you see it through my clothes? I had so many questions spiraling through my head but all I could do was nod. My mom’s expression was composed. She always sat straight and professional in the doctor’s office. I could still see the sympathy on her face when she glanced over at me and pity smiled, lips only slightly curled up. “You will have to wear it eighteen hours a day, including at night.” Jose continued. When I left his office I felt more curious then anything. I had no idea what a back brace was like. Most importantly, I was thinking of all the ways to cover it up under my clothes without looking like a freak. I was in seventh grade, the time when all you want to do is fit in.

“…A back brace? Well, maybe it won’t be too bad,” I said to my mom.

“That’s it, stay positive,” my mom encouraged. She has always been an optimist with her permanent smile and her special way of shrugging off petty problems. Deep inside I was worried. I didn’t even know anyone with a back brace!

By the middle of eighth grade and I had been wearing the unforgiving monster for a whole year. I felt trapped inside the plastic shell. It was so thick I would sweat heavily underneath it. I had to pull the straps on the back as tightly as I could to make it work, but doing so created a rib crushing reaction that made it hard to breath. I felt like I was being punished for something I had done.

“Six more months at least,” Jose said. In the office I shrugged off these words, but inside I was fighting back tears and wishing it would just be over. My mom always noticed when I was about to cry. My eyes would water up and she would look over towards me and slightly curl her lips up. I always knew this meant she felt sorrow for me. Jose left the office and I gathered my things to leave.

“I’m so sorry sweetie,” She said. That’s all she ever really needed to say. “When this is all over I will take you shopping and we can get some clothes that fit.” I became ecstatic! Only a great mom knows shopping is the best way to cure a teenager of her sorrow.

Words could not describe the pain I was feeling. Those long nights of wearing the back brace left me sore and uncomfortable. I hated always having to adjust the straps of my cold plastic shell.  My mom was the best person to talk to. She was sit quietly and listen, acknowledging everything I said with a slight nod of the head. 

“It’s the worst thing in the world! I hate going to school looking disfigured and walking like a robot. No one really knows what is going on but they can tell something is off,” I said. Sometimes I would cry because I just couldn’t help it. “No one will ever know how terrible it is.”  

“You’re right, Alissa. I will never know what it feels like but everyone has problems. You will get through it and become a much stronger person,” my mom said with her soft voice. She hardly raised her voice at anyone. She remained calm and composed in all situations. At the time I didn’t understand how right she was. I thought the world was ending. In the end I did get through it and now I can endure any obstacle life brings.

In the middle of my freshman year, two years after I received the back brace sentence, “It’s over, you don’t need the back brace anymore!” Jose exclaimed. I was so happy I could barely contain myself. Both Jose and my mom could see the happiness this news had brought me. When I got home, me and my mom went out back with my brace. 

“Are you ready?” She asked me smiling almost as big as I was.

“Never been more ready!” I exclaimed. I remember making a big scene as I symbolically threw my brace in the trashcan. I never looked back after I closed the lid.

The way my mom was there for me throughout my entire journey made it a thousand times better. I always had someone to talk to. At the time I felt alone, like no one would know what I was going through, but now I realize I was never alone. My mom was always there to help me through it. I just hope she knows how important she is to me. And we did go shopping!

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