I Will Wipe Your Tears

“I’ll wipe your tears, Mama,” he said as he reached up to my face. It was that moment when my mama heart knew everything would be okay.

I’ve dealt with a lot of grief in my life and while I won’t sit here and list off every little thing, I do think some of it is important to the story, so bear with me.

My parents’ divorce

I was 9 and while they never made it hard for me, it was confusing and scary. My whole world was turned upside down. I remember asking my mom, about a month before, to promise not to get a divorce.

You see, my friend’s parents divorced and it was pretty messy. I didn’t want that for our family. So, I felt betrayed when she told me. I know now, though, it wasn’t fair to be mad. I had an amazing childhood regardless. My dad and I got to spend quality time together just the two of us and that still makes me so happy! I only have those memories left.

My dad was diagnosed with cancer

He found out sometime after the divorce that he had cancer in his small intestine (I think) and eventually metastasized to his liver. He lived a few years without a ton of complications. He was a pilot so we were able to fly anywhere and everywhere. We took trips to California to pan for gold, visited family in Wisconsin often, to Seattle to whale watch, to San Francisco to see Alcatraz, and he even flew my mom and me to Washington D.C. and went to the White House. While we were home, we took comfort singing in the church choir, he let me drive on the dry lake bed near our house, we bought a hot tub and made our backyard a total retreat and we even learned how to garden!

The last year of his life was very rough, though. I was a junior in high school when things took a turn for the worse. He was in the hospital for months. I remember him begging the doctors to let him go to hospice. I don’t know why they wouldn’t and this makes me feel so guilty. But I was 16, I needed someone to tell me it was all going to be okay.

He went into respiratory failure suddenly and without warning one morning. They intubated him but his body was done fighting. I understood this but it stings that I was the one responsible for deciding to take him off life support.

There were 6 of us all around him as he went, my mom, my grandma, my uncle, my aunt, my 3-year-old cousin, and me. We talked with him and about the good times we had with him. My cousin Andrew said, “Mama there are angels in the sky” about 5 or so minutes after extubation, and then a few minutes later told us they flew into the window. I was standing by his bed and he shed a tear, I wiped it. In that second, two things happened that I will never forget: his heart monitor went flat and Andrew saying “The angels flew away.” I still get chills.

My mom’s heart surgery

My mom had a double bypass 3 months after my dad’s passing. She almost didn’t make it. I remember briefly thinking that I would be an orphan. She stayed in the ICU for 10 or so days. Thank goodness she survived because I don’t know how I would have gone on. I am not exaggerating when I tell you she is my very best friend. I cried big time when she finally came home. She was then, and still to this day, remains my rock. My mama taught me how to stand up for myself. She went to doctor after doctor before the surgery because she knew something was wrong. All but one brushed her off. Dr. Miranda is a Godsend.

Shady Uncle

In the weeks after my dad’s passing. My uncle was doing some terrible things. He was named the executor of my dad’s estate. He called the life insurance office impersonating my lawyer to get the check sent to him and in his name. He put my house on the market without my knowledge; he hired his wife to sell it and make the commission. I won’t go into all the horrid details because it’s a FIVE year, $70,000 rabbit hole. Everything worked out in my favor and I no longer have contact with them. It makes me sad that I lost family but I gained so much more. I learned that family isn’t always blood, something that prepared me for being a bonus mom years later.

The In-between

From sixteen to twenty-five, my time was spent graduating high school, beginning and graduating college, moving to 5 different cities, 2 long term relationships that ended pretty badly, then moving again to Lafayette and completely starting over.

Lots of tears were shed during these years but kept moving forward and progressing. I kept telling myself I was strong. Never once did therapy cross my mind. Mostly because I thought it was “just” for people with “problems.” Counseling was never taught to me as normal, and come to think about it, the one time I did meet with a counselor after the divorce was a horrible experience. We were a few minutes late to the appointment and the counselor was mad at me. We never went back.

I just didn’t know

I didn’t know the power counseling could have. The life-changing knowledge.

In 2014, I met my now hubs and gained a bonus son. Being a stepmom is hard but so rewarding. Counseling helped navigate these waters. It was so good for communication.

In 2015, I had a miscarriage and I couldn’t have survived without being able to talk to someone who understood the depression that followed.

In 2017, we had our rainbow baby and we were happy and completely in love with this tiny human, but postpartum depression didn’t care. It took ahold of me and I found the care compassion I needed in therapy.

And today, my almost 3 old was diagnosed with a rare disorder. We’ve been searching for answers, scouring the internet for research and for a doctor who knows more then we do about his disorder. Every time we think we are ahead, we take two steps back. We are in the thick of it. So I broke down and cried. That is when our story began. My 2-year-old son Jackson telling me that he will wipe my tears was a huge wake-up call. It’s time for some maintenance. l will be going to counseling.

Marissa Winters
Marissa has lived in Lafayette since 2014 and quickly fell in love with Louisiana culture, community spirit and the amazing food!! Marissa is the Director of Healthy Acadiana at the United Way of Acadiana and loves to be the helper. Marissa has a 5 year old named Jackson and absolutely loves being his Mama. Follow along with them as they navigate the waters of school, co-parenting, and so much more.


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