Mom, this past weekend, I graduated from a Master’s program that was filled with late nights writing papers after long days of work, weekends sacrificed for completing midterms, and the constant threat of work unfinished looming overhead. 

People remarked that they couldn’t believe I was working full time, completing my masters, and planning a wedding, all while living with cystic fibrosis. 

But I knew I could do it, because of you, Mom. 

Thank you for bringing me up in a world where having CF meant I could get a masters while working full time, as long as I woke up early to do my treatments, and got a full 8 hours of sleep.

Thank you for guiding me through a world where CF meant I would miss the first two weeks of first grade, but where I was still ahead in reading throughout elementary school, because all that time in the hospital bed meant more time for reading and practicing my letters. 

Thank you for holding my hand through a world where CF meant I would be smaller than all my peers, but where you would lift me up to my fullest potential, guiding me over obstacles, and kicking the nay-sayers out of the way: like the doctor who told me I’d better get used to the hospital; and the teacher who told me he wouldn’t help teach me missed material after missing 2 weeks of school; and the principal who said I couldn’t attend the middle school dance while in the hospital (spoiler alert: That doctor was wrong, I used her words as motivation. I learned that material on my own to spite that teacher. And I made it to that dance, IV in my arm, in mom’s mini-van chariot). 

Mom, thank you for dancing through a world where CF meant the future was uncertain, so you had better enjoy the ride. For teaching me to shake what my momma gave me, and for giving me the best medicine: laughter. 

And mom, thank you for letting me breathe. Though sometimes those breaths were tight and congested, wheezy or hoarse, you were there to clear them with your love, your persistence, and your jokes. 

So that today, mom, I can breathe. I can breathe because you taught me how important it was to listen to my body. I can breathe because of every dollar you raised. I can breathe because you let me breathe, you let me grow up, and venture out into the world, with all my imperfections and all my fears, armed with the belief that this disease wouldn’t hold me back. And I couldn’t be more thankful for that gift. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama Bear.

Your (not so) little girl