It is an honour to share this guest post from my good friend, Nancy. I met Nancy a few years ago at a support group meeting. Later I would meet her again when I joined a local committee. One thing I have always admired about Nancy is her love for and unwavering commitment to her family. As she shares in her post, it hasn’t always been an easy road advocating within systems. Yet she carries each of her experiences with grace; reflecting, learning and demonstrating her courage and passion to make a difference. I am so proud to call her my friend.
Author: Nancy Bergen
Always remembered and never forgotten.
It has been a difficult few weeks since the start of this new school year. I thought we were in a good place with having our daughter back at the same school, in the same program, with the same teacher and two of her educational assistants (EAs) as last school year. Wrong…. What was I thinking? Well I was hoping for a smooth start to this school year but unfortunately there wasn’t enough EA support allocated to the classroom so that has set us as parents into advocacy mode, yet again.
This morning as I was processing yet another bump in this road of ensuring that my daughter and her classmates have equitable access to their education, I started to become emotional. What were these tears about? Yes I know I am emotionally tired and drained and yet I have this fighting spirit in me that is telling me not to give up.
After a bit more probing as to where these emotions were coming from I realized that this is the week before my mom’s passing 3 years ago. That is when things started to make more sense to me.
You see, my mom was a fighter and she didn’t give up. She saw the struggles that we have gone through since our daughter was born and she was my cheerleader. She encouraged me, told me not to give up, to fight for what is right and just. AND she modeled this for me every day. She had very complex medical issues and lived with constant pain. She had to blend her food so she could swallow it and even then would often choke but she knew that she needed to keep eating to keep living to watch her grandchildren grow up. She struggled daily so that she could see our daughter continue to grow and flourish. There were some very dark times for her and she saw the dark times that our daughter went through as well and had deep empathy for her. My mom trusted us as parents to keep fighting for our daughter, she trusted us to keep advocating for her and her education.
I know my mom would be so very proud of how our daughter has grown into the caring and nurturing 15 year old that she is today. She would be so happy to see how chatty she can be, to see her love of young children and the way that she can see the needs of others and come alongside of them in her very special way. And as I write this I realize that my daughter is a mirror image of my mom in so many ways and I realize they would have so much to talk about these days.
So although this is a difficult week for me, I will not admit defeat. I will continue to fight, to advocate, to protect and hold others accountable. I will remember my mom and the fight she had with life itself and how she fought to the bitter end.
Mom, thanks for having faith in me and for being my cheerleader.