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I got pregnant at the age of eighteen. I don’t know exactly who the father is because I was cheating on my boyfriend at the time, who was also cheating on me. I was young and had decided that what was good for the goose was good for the gander. For real, I just needed some attention.

I went to Providence Hospital where they confirmed my pregnancy. I told the other guy, who was very upset, and I told my boyfriend. Standing in the hallway of our project apartments, he was angry. He was younger than me and not ready to have a child. He tried to push me down a flight of stairs. I fought back, but started to bleed internally. Back at the hospital, I found out I had miscarried. He had really scared the life out of me: he really was trying to hurt me. Anyway, I haven’t been pregnant since, although I have tried.

Today my mom tries to tell me that the hospital made a mistake, that I never was pregnant. All I know is I’ve never missed a menstrual period in my life and at that time I missed two.

Skip ahead to a few years ago when my girl friend and I got our very own apartment. Both of us were spoiled and taken care of by our families. We found the worst apartment in the hood that could have been afforded. My best cousin moved in with us. He met these ladies up stairs and one of them had his personality. She was really funny, and she lived with two sisters. She had a daughter that I remember – the sisters had kids too, but I can’t picture what they looked like as children. We became very close and friendly neighbors. There was not a day that passed that they didn’t come down to see us.

That connection was gone 3 years later, after losing the apartment and moving out. One day I ran into two cousins: children of one of the sisters I had met. The older one was about fifteen by now. I was strung out on drugs and almost at the point of asking for help, but too dumb to know how. The youngest one must have remembered me. He knew I worked, would never spend my money on drugs and wasn’t tricking, yet he would not help me out. His older cousin didn’t like it or me – so they would argue about me from time to time.

A few more years passed, and the next time I talked to the older cousin, somehow things were different between us. He had changed. He was loving and giving and very understanding. One day it just happened, I began to look out for him and him for me. About two more years passed and I remember walking toward him. He called me Ma.

With no kids of my own and a belief in the relationship we had, it went straight to heart. I began to call him son. There wasn’t a day that passed that I didn’t long to see him. I started dressing better, eating better and feeling better about myself. I’ll never forget our first falling out: when he scared the holy hell out of me. His best cousin was killed in a car accident the night before. Oh man he was almost like someone I didn’t even know. But in the end he apologized and I understood. Still standing strong, our relationship that is. He started taking time out of his busy schedule just to talk to me. All of a sudden the question came up about me getting high. He looked me in my eyes and asked, why don’t you quit? I said I’m trying and he said don’t try; do it. I can remember walking out of that hallway feeling so damn good. Like there wasn’t anything that could stop me from quitting. I held on to that feeling for about 7 years until I finally quit.

Today he is very much still in my life. He doesn’t appreciate my smoking so I still try and not do it. He’s like my hero. I talk to him almost every day and he is still my son. It’s called unconditional love and unconditional strength to fight for someone when you really can’t fight for yourself. I really want to say to him, “thank you so much for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Thanks for all the times you’ve been there when I had no one else. Thanks for loving me like no one else has. And thanks for caring like only you could. I love you so much I can’t even say it. For the day you brought me shrimp which is my favorite food, I knew you were okay. Being homeless, you found a place for me to stay. You are my life, my life and my son. And in my eyes through God you are the only one.