A call from Stella*…
I’ve written many times about Stella*, a woman who I met a few years ago through Get On The Bus. Just to refresh your memory, she and I met totally by chance as she called the GOTB offices and I just happened to answer. Her boyfriend was and still is incarcerated at a California state prison. During that first call, she had shared that he had not seen his boys, who were very young (now 14 and 12) in several years. In addition to the boys struggling to see their father, they had also very recently and suddenly lost their mom to cancer and were whisked away from the life that they knew in LA to live with an elderly relative in the middle of the desert.
Stella reminds me of many matriarchs that I know. She is the rock of the family when it seems everything, and I mean everything, starts to crumble. Her compassionate nature, reliance on her faith and perseverance seem to somehow get her through all the hardships. She is the woman wearing many hats as a provider for the family, a compassionate ear to anyone and everyone who needs it, a fixer who takes any problems that arise along the life’s journey. Although when you ask Stella how she is she never complains and she answers with a simple, “I’m blessed.”
Stella is infamous for her bubbly personality coupled with her ability to deliver some really fantastic one liners. The best thing about the one liners is they come without much warning and can either put you into a boisterous fit of laughter or leave you thinking for days to come. Although I love the humorous side of Stella, I have grown to equally love the philosophizer within.
Today as we were talking she throw out this thought, “…I tell my boyfriend all the time that just as he is incarcerated so am I, I just have my freedom… Because of all the constraints and responsibilities it takes to have him as part of my life, I used to just be existing. I anchored my life around what it was that he and others needed from me. Maria, I tell you, I’ve finally started to live.”
Wow! This was a big revelation. Too often when we look at our justice system, we look at what is happening unjustly to the people inside and more recently because of organizations like GOTB, the children affected. But what about the Stellas in this world? How do we address their issues? Who is reaching out to them?
Stella and many others are the unsung heroes of their families. They are the people who unselfishly sacrifice their lives for their loved ones. Just as Stella has finally realized, everyone deserves a chance to live not just to exist. I invite you to do something nice for yourself today because you deserve it!!!
* Names have been changed in the story.