By Annie Zidek

My mom has been through a lot: at 30 she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. And eight years later she was diagnosed with another brain tumor. And in December of 2013 she was diagnosed with brain cancer.

Surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy beat her up and keep her bed ridden. For sixteen years, it's felt like I've been going solo since she hasn't always been able to be there for me.

I don't blame my mom at all; being independent has allowed me to grow into my strength and helped me come to terms with the idea that it's okay to be alone at times.

Being alone let me analyze my ideals and myself. I took pieces from my circumstances and built them into who I am. While doing so, I learned to fend for myself and what I stand for.

I grew into myself. Confidence sprouted from my sense of independence, and I became self-assured and felt slight empowerment. I (kind of) know what I’m doing now, and I’m aware of what I want.

Going solo helped me internalized relationships and appreciate individuals. Human connection is pivotal: we can’t live without it. Cherish the “human noises” as Raymond Carver calls it because those are the sweetest sounds.

Being “on my own” in a way pushed me to explore ideas different from when I was raised with. I came to love art and poetry and feminism, all of which gave me a voice I felt I didn’t have before.

Basically my mom is badass, and she helped me become badass. THANKS, MOM.