“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” — Maya Angelou

“But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.” ~ Mitch Albom

It still bothers me sometime when I meet people who say that they aren’t really that close to their parents or siblings. It also breaks my heart when I read or hear stories about abandoned children by abusive or drug addicted parents and taken away by social services. I understand that some people grow apart; but it hurts because ultimately, children have to pay the price, when indeed they did not even ask to be born. In my home country Rwanda, you are normally expected to stay in touch with everyone who is related to you by blood, all the way to your extended family.

My Mom Colette was a mother who would do whatever it takes to be there for me and my siblings. If she ever had a problem, although being the second children (in a family of 6) and the oldest girl, I never learned or knew about it. She perhaps kept the pain or trouble to herself, and we, children never realized it. If my parents ever had a fight, I never found out. In the nutshell, our world was a paradise. We were given everything they could afford, and if they struggled in any way, we never learned the details.

When I was growing up, it was uncommon for parents to be emotional in front of their children. My parents never told me that they loved me; it’s still the same in many families in Rwanda. Regardless, I knew that they loved me so deeply. While gifts exchanging was uncommon, whenever we achieved a milestone in our lives (doing well in school, learning how to do chores at home), we would get small prizes. Learning how to do some chores was a big deal, particularly because even to this day, many families can afford housemaids/nannies/helpers. When I was little, we had 2-3 workers around the house, and they lived with us.

My Lovely Mother, in 1976, shortly before her wedding.

My Mom, my inspiration! Weeks after her engagement to my Dad (Late 70s)

I was spoiled pretty much. I knew how to do just a few things. It was the same for all my siblings. No wonder why from the day the genocide against the Tutsi began in Rwanda (April 7th,1994) to the day she surrendered her final breath, this was my brave mother’s daily prayer: her entire family to die all together in a painless, fastest death possible. I don’t remember if she prayed to be shot instead of being cut into pieces, but I know that her prayer was answered differently, 17 days later (April 24th,1994). Perhaps she thought, and I am entirely sure, that none of her children would be able to survive on their own. She did not have to explain.

Dear Mommy, not only that four of us survived, we also rose above the storms. The God you loved and thought us to pray, Has been everything we ever need! We miss you with deep sorrow but we know that God loved you more than we did, and wanted you by His side. All your surviving children truly praise Him with gratitude! You dwell in heavenly eternal peace. We will finish what you started!

My mother was a selfless mother, everything to us, and an inspiration. She loved and treated everyone like a family, even those who didn’t like our family. Actually, one of my mother’s sisters-in-law had a dream in 1993. In it, a tragedy was coming to Rwanda where she saw many people getting killed. As she was about to die, she prayed that my mother would survive. In the dream, she was convinced that if my mother survived, that she would raise my aunt’s children as her own. That’s the caliber of a mother I am proud to call a woman who brought me into this life! Although I only got to know her for a few years, she remains my hero and role model, all my life!

After the genocide against the Tutsi ended, I vowed that I would not call anyone mom or dad ever again. I actually despised hearing some fortunate classmates at my high school bragging about their parents. I was extremely bitter. I kept my word though, until August 2008 when I met the most amazing woman at a mutual friend’s dinner, in Rochester, New York. Her name is Glori Lovall. Few months later, she gave me the greatest possible honor: to call her my MOM. To make things even better, she’s only two years younger than my mother Colette would be. For the first time since I lost my parents, someone called me “daughter.” I rejoice everyday!

Maman et moi. Mars 2014

My Mom & I on my birthday: March 2014

In a few words, I raised myself. I never had a role model, or just someone to give me an advice on how things work. It’s ironic how I still struggle to adjust to a life where my new Mom tells me things, and when it exactly turns out as she told me, she says: “may be you should start listening to your mother”. Or something like reminding me to eat, visit some people, print out directions to get to places even when I have both a smartphone and a regular GPS, simple things like that. I can’t imagine a life without hers in mine. I am truly humbled by God’s wonders.

One small town in upstate New York has captured my heart forever! The kind of feeling that overwhelms my soul with joy each time I set my foot on the grounds of its airport cannot be expressed in words!

When I go back home, my new home in Rochester, my Mom always has a calendar of things I would do while there: visiting friends, family and friends coming over to see me etc. I don’t set the alarm clock when I am home. She exactly knows how much time it takes me to get ready. She knocks at my door until she hears my response because she knows how much I love my sleep. She cooks the best food and I eat so much when I am home. My Mom flies in to see me every year around my birthday! She is exceptional!

I know my mother would have done exactly the same. Glori is full of life and very loving. Each day that passes, I’m amazed by how my Mom and I find things we have in common, from physical aspects to life’s passions. It blows my mind, and brings me down to my knees before the Lord. From Colette’s ashes, God blessed me with a new mother, an incredible one!

If your Mom is incredible and still alive, hug her today and tell her that she means the world to you. If she is in heaven with God, treasure your memories of her. Write it down and do never stop talking about her. Colette is my hero, and she is alive as long as I shall live, and beyond. Glori is my gift from heaven, and Jesus’ love on display in my life.

I’m forever thankful to both of them, but more importantly, I praise GOD who loved me so much and honored me with two most amazing Mothers in my life! I am BLESSED!

8 thoughts on ““To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” — Maya Angelou

  1. Am missing you Mama. I do Really miss you. 14 Apr
    1994 sunday.. Unforgettable.. Thanks for sharing
    good sister.. I love you and i pray God to be with you
    and am sure you will succed. Keep it up the rest is
    with you.

  2. I vividly remember that sad news about death of your parents reached me towards the end of April 1994. I was in the family that had granted me a provisional refuge. GOD IS FATHER AND MOTHER OF ORPHANS, there is no reason of losing hope.

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