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The year is 1999 and at the time I didn’t know it yet but my life would be altered forever and for the better. A day I learned you don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.  At the time I didn’t know I needed this day. I knew I was doing the right thing, but I had no idea the life I saved would later save mine.

Sixteen years ago today I gave birth to a son. It has been my greatest privilege to help him grow into the young man he is today. I remember his first steps, the first signs he made to speak to mommy, his first teeth, his first lost tooth, his first time surfing and the first wave he ever caught. So many firsts along the way and today is his first day of age sixteen.

My son has taught me to live again. He is strong and loving, everything a mother could dream her son would be. He has been a rock in the river to me and he has never quit believing in me. What character a sixteen year old demonstrates. He knows everything, about my rape, that I fought the world to keep him, and that I choose life because I believed even then; that I was given this little gift from god to look after.

He has been that and more to me.

What a young man he’s become. I could spend every moment of the rest of my life sitting in awe of him. He is so kind, so smart and such a caring person. I wonder what I ever did right to be blessed with him. The child who is my hero, the same I call my son.

He’s taught me to love, to live and to hope. I see in him the best of mankind and hope for him all his heart could desire. Josef today you are sixteen I can’t believe how fast the years have passed. Only yesterday you needed mommies finger just to stand and now you’ve grown into an independent young man fully capable of doing anything on his own.

I see you running to embrace life and living it to the fullest. You’ve taught me innocence I lost so long ago. Through your eyes I’ve had the childhood that was stolen by evil. Through your life I’ve seen great joy and love. In your heart I’ve found strength of a god.

You once told me “Mom you’ve fought to long and hard. How do you keep going?” You deserve an answer and you are old enough to hear it.

As I stood upon the sands and faced my trials, one after the other they tried to crush me. Each time I was knocked down and thought myself beaten I’d gaze into the stands and there you were cheering. You weren’t alone I know but when I’d see you still cheering for me to get up something inside would make me get to my feet. I would not die this day, I would not fall in defeat. But why? Because I wouldn’t let you see me lose like that.

That son is how I do it. I could stand a lifetime upon the sands of the arena. I would stand each time I was knocked down. If I am to be beaten before my sons eyes then the foe had better kill me swiftly or die by my sword.

I’ve learned something else from these battles. I haven’t yet tapped all the strength you’ve poured into me. Somewhere in there is a reserve and even I have no idea how deep it is. But it’s there because I will not die while my hero cheers for my victory. No matter how bad it gets, I have your strength driving me forward, driving me to victory after victory.

I promise you this son. When the final foe is slain and I stand upon the sands the ultimate gladiator. I will raise my sword to you in respect and you will celebrate my freedom at my side.

You are and have always been my someday right here in the today. Do you know that? You’ve always been my hero, my strength. You ask where I get my strength but I am in awe of yours.

I love you Josef and don’t ever think differently. You are my joy, my hope and the light of my life. And it has been my honor to call you my son. Someday son I will be free and we shall walk in that freedom. You will always be my someday, my yesterday and my today.

Love always,

Mom

“The child that I delivered has delivered me.”