*sorry ahead of time for this being so long*
My name is Angel Bray, I am 20 years old and I have lived enough to be 80. I've had a life full of love, self hatred, and tragedy. When I was 16 I met a man who changed my life, he made me fall for him and I ended up pregnant with an abusive man's son. I had my son 4 1/2 months early, he was one pound when he was born and he lived 3 months in the NICU but his lungs wouldn't develop and I was told I could either take him off the machines and let him pass peacefully or leave him on and make him suffer for 3 more months while his lungs filled with blood and he would eventually pass away in pain. I was 17 and scared. I decided to take him off the machines and I held him in my arms for two hours until the life left his tiny (now) six pound body. While this was extremely hard for me to handle and I honestly thought I would end up killing myself I made it almost two years and was finally enjoying life without my son. Until I got the call. At 3 AM my big sister called me and left a voicemail begging me to help her. She wasnt making any sense and I assumed she was on some sort of drugs and ignored it. Hours later my mom was blowing up my phone, at about 5 AM I answered it only to have my life changed yet again. My hero was gone. My big sister had overdosed. She was scared and wanted my help and I ignored her. I hung up the phone and just screamed. I was in a daze. I didn't even realize I was screaming. I ran to my roommate's bedroom door and pounded on it. She opened it and I let it all out. She had no words. No one could say anything that would fix anything. She was my rock. She was the one I called when I missed my son. She always knew what to say. Her voice was all you needed to feel better. She was gone. That morning at 6 AM suicide was on my mind. I wanted to die. I wanted to go to this magical place in the afterlife everyone claimed my son and sister would be waiting for me. I couldn't make my mom loose another. I know what loosing a child is like. "You have to be strong for the family, they won't be able to handle this without your strength." I heard my sister's advice in my head. It's exactly what she would have said. I took a cold shower then called my boyfriend at his work and told him what has happened. I told him I had to go to my moms for the week to help my family and to get to the funeral. He, being the controlling abusive type, insisted he had to go or I want allowed to. So at 8AM or so our ride to my moms cane to get us and I prepared myself to be strong even when I was breaking. To this day people tell me how much they admire my strength, but I'm not strong I'm just good at pretending everything is OK. At the viewing I had a moment where I was the only one in the room with her, well, body and I completely lost it temporarily. I fell to my knees and started asking God why he had to take her (by the way up until this point o was an atheist now I'm trying to figure out where I stand with religion) I was begging him to let us have her back, to have us just wake up and figure out it was only a nightmare. I stood up and looked at her. My sister was the most beautiful woman alive in my eyes. She was also an all around good person. She went on mission trips, married a pastor, had three beautiful sons none of them older than 9. She (like me) just wanted to help people in need. She would be in Atlanta and sit with a homeless person talking for like 30 minutes then if he mentions anything about him being a musician of any sort then she would spend hours singing praise to God. She would make these peoples day just by talking for a while and singing with them. She didn't deserve to die and that made me so angry. If anything I deserved it, I have done some pretty bad things in my life. I've stolen from the people who love me, done pretty much every drug you can think of, I have sold my body to pay my bills, I've stolen from stores and then sold the things I stole so I could buy drugs of some sort, I've gotten in physical fights, I didn't believe in God I mean if he was real you think he'd take the non-beleiver instead of the die hard Christian who spends her time helping others. I was so angry. I couldn't even think of any words to describe what I was feeling in that room alone trying to beg a God I didn't believe in to give me back my sister. 2 Months after my sister's death I decided to leave my abusive boyfriend after he spent 3 hours beating me and locking me in the closet (I have panic attacks in small dark spaces). I left in the middle of the night with all my things in the back of a friends truck. I had nowhere to go. I lived out of the truck with this friend for 2 months and ended up dating him. After that 2 months he admitted to cheating on me the whole time and dropped me and my stuff off in the parking lot of a motel next to my work. I had no money so I put all my stuff behind my work's dumpster and lived there for a while. During this time my stepmom told me she had been diagnosed with cancer but mad with seem like it was OK and she would be fine. I worked all the time and was sleeping behind the dumpster. Once a week I would get a room at the motel for a night so I could shower and sleep in a bed for a night. A regular customer of mine ended up moving me into his spare bedroom and, because all I had was my work uniform and pj's, he bought me a whole new wardrobe. I had a nice place to live, really nice clothes and shoes, and he fed me breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course I ended up dating him even though he was 39 and I was 19. He seemed like "the one". I was happy. Even though some people frowned upon our age difference, my dad liked him, my mom liked him, my stepmom liked him, my friends liked him, and I thought this was it. I was settling down with someone and it felt great. Until I got the call. My stepmom's condition was bad. She only had weeks maybe days to live and I was advised to visit her and say NY goodbyes. When I walked into her room and saw her it was as if she was already gone. It seemed like just yesterday we were planning on cooking dinner together one night. Now I was looking at this empty shell. As morbid as it sounds we were waiting for her to pass away. When she did I didn't cry. It hurt but I was so broken already. I decided to use the fact that I was finally around my little sister (only 5 months younger, me and her are adopted) to my advantage. Even though we were both so very upset I told Gracie (my little sister) that we were going out, just me and her. This was a big deal because we haven't really hung out since we hit adulthood. I took her to chick-fil-a and we went to Piedmont Park which is where we played as kids. Oddly enough we had allot of fun. We played on the slides, the seesaw, the swings, we took allot of pictures and got goofy in some of them. But then we went back to my dad's house and the sadness hit again. It's like I kept getting the news over and over again and each time it hit me that she was gone, it got harder and harder to be my family's rock, but I had to be the strong one. I haven't cried yet. I went home because I just couldn't be there anymore. My boyfriend went to her funeral with me, we get to the church where I spent so much of my childhood and I'm keeping strong. The service starts with a slideshow of pictures and so far I'm not in any of them. Then I saw it. Pictures of me with this amazing woman who had become a motherly figure for me were up on this screen and it was like everyone in the mega-church disappeared. I didn't even notice I had been bawling my eyes out until my boyfriend put his hand on mine and with his other handed me a tissue. With each picture of us my sobbing got more, what's the word I'm looking for, violent. People from my childhood and some I didn't recognize gave speeches and one word kept being used, fierce, Dacia (my stepmom) was fierce. These speeches were so spot on. Some made everyone laugh as we remembered the funny, quirky things she did, and some hit hard and made me cry more. Then my dad came up. Towards the end of my dad's speech he called all of us kids up and keep in mind this church is filled with church-going modest Christians, I have a blue and black pixie cut, I have 7 visible tattoos, I have a bull ring in my nose and I'm so out of place up on this stage with all of my siblings. My dad's words are so heartfelt as he goes down the line of us kids and talks about our individual connections with Dacia. When he gets to me he hesitates, hes trying not to cry and I hate seeing my dad cry, finally he's able to talk about how me and Dacia were so alike, how she taught me everything I know about cooking, about how she was my number one fan. He spoke about how she was always the one pushing me to follow my "many talents" (a little back story: I was extremely talented in painting, drawing, sculpting, singing, playing the violin and cello, photography like Dacia, cooking like Dacia, baking, decorating extravagant cakes, writing, anything involving a computer or technology in general, designing clothes, I had a natural need to help anyone in need, and Dacia saw that and pushed me to do it all) my dad talked about how I interned in a five star bakery decorating cakes for celebrities at the age of 14 all because Dacia pushed me to call them and work for it. My dad went into the amazing connection me and Dacia shared when we were in the kitchen making dinner together. As he was going through all this I broke down, my knees were shaking and I was violently sobbing on this stage in front of all these people. I looked into this crowd and saw that almost every person was crying, even people I never met. It turned out Dacia was constantly bragging about my talents, constantly selling my talents to people trying to make me known. I had no idea how much potential Dacia had seen in me until that point. I'm sorry I'm going on and on about this but I swear it is important. When the service was over people kept coming up to me and told me about the painting they had of mine or about how they loved the pictures from my photo shoots (I also modeled, Dacia's idea) or about how much they loved the sculpture they saw on Dacia's desk that I made, all these people (some I never met) were coming to me like I was famous and they couldn't believe they were in the same room as me. This inspired me. When I got home I sat in the shower and replayed Dacia's words in my head "you have so many talents, how will you ever choose what path to go down" I remember I would tell her I was going to do it all and I didn't have to choose, she would always say "you have to choose one to turn into a career Angel, the others can be hobbies but if you try to follow all of your talents your plate will be to full and you'll never get as big as you want. But if you choose one and give it your all you could become famous. It's up to you to pick." As I sat in that shower I racked my brain trying my hardest to choose a path to follow. Cooking.... It was mine and Dacia's thing. Well i decided on mixing cooking and baking. I now had a goal. I wanted to help people no matter what path I took I wanted to somehow help people with it. I decided I want to open a restaurant with a bakery in it as well like fine dining plus you can place cake orders and I wanted to have a program for underprivileged children to come learn the basics of cooking, baking, painting, photography, etc. I want to teach them skills that aren't very common so that they can make something of themselves, like a summer day camp. Well Dacia passed away in November and in December I went to jail for shoplifting and possession of marijuana. While I was in jail for a month my "he's the one" boyfriend broke up with me. So when I got out of jail I wasnt going to have a great place to live or an awesome boyfriend anymore. He let me stay for a month while I looked for somewhere to go. About a week and a half before that month was up someone popped into my head, James. When I was 16 I worked with James and I had the biggest secret crush on him. I still had a crush on him. It was 2 AM when I texted James "let me guess, you have a girlfriend?" Long story short because apparently he had been crushing on me this whole time as well, he left his girlfriend and we fell hard for each other. And now as I'm typing this he is sitting next to me on the couch. I found him. "The one" he's been right there for four years. As I work toward the restaurant I've taken up writing.