To My Mentor: Thank You for Loving Me Through My Battles With Crohn's Disease

To a very dear mentor, teacher, friend and someone I consider a second mom…

Thank you.

I know I have already thanked you time and time again, but there will never be enough thank yous to properly thank you for everything you have helped me through. So… even though I know this won’t be the last…

Thank you.

Thank you for helping me find my voice when I was struggling to find it myself.

Being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease as a freshman in high school was extremely hard. Being a freshman was hard enough as it was – add on a chronic illness and I wanted to do nothing more than hide from everything. Music soon became my escape. Music was both a way for me to forget for a few minutes about how I really felt and it also helped me to express how I was feeling when words just weren’t there.

There were times when people tried bringing me down and my self-esteem plummeted. A stay in the hospital my junior year resulted in certain people letting everyone know that they thought I was faking the whole thing. At that point, I wanted to quit singing forever. You patiently heard me… listened and understood.

You never once forced me to do anything during my lessons. Instead, you let me decide when I was ready to continue. This was probably the best thing for me – for me to finally have control of something in my life. Having Crohn’s, I’ve always felt a lack of control in both my health and my life. You helped me gained control of my voice. You helped me rediscover my voice through music and find the comfort associated with it.

two women wearing dresses and stained in a church holding flowers

Thank you for reminding me that even strong people are allowed to cry.

You may not remember the conversation we had on a freezing cold day, waiting for a bus in New York City, but it is a conversation I will never forget. A few kind words and actions I will always hold close to me. After what was supposed to be a fun-filled few days in NYC soon turned into one of my greatest Crohn’s flares to date, I wanted nothing more than to be home. To be in my own bed, where I didn’t have to put on a smile to hide my pain. You could see past that smile though and I knew it.

While waiting for what seemed like forever for the bus, I felt so weak. I didn’t have to say anything, you could tell, and you held me. And then you told me what I will never forget. You told me I’m allowed to cry, that just because I cry doesn’t mean I’m not strong, and that’s just what I did. It felt so good. There are times when I still find myself holding back tears. Times when I’m in so much pain, but I don’t want people to think I’m “weak.” Then I remember what you told me – that crying doesn’t mean I’m weak. Sometimes it’s OK to just cry.

Thank you for loving me through it all.

Thank you for always being here for me and loving me through one of the hardest times of my life. For never making me feel like I was a nuisance to you and always having a listening ear when I needed it the most. The love you showed me during times when I didn’t love myself was exactly what I needed. I love you. Thank you for being such a huge part of my life. I will be forever grateful for all of the love and support you continue to show me to this day. Thank you!

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