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A Mother, a Wife, and a Hero
“WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? WE HAVE FIVE CHILDREN AND YOU GO OFF AND DO THIS… C’ mon Asaad, c’ mo…” Her voice was broken by the heavy and cold tears that ran down her face. This was the last thing that Ban Abood said to her husband before his heart monitor went blank in the dark disease-infested Iraqi hospital. What was once a mediocre mother with the average life in Iraq, alongside a husband and five children, turned into the complete opposite after the Iraqi war hit. At first, her life was like every fairy tale, but such impractical ideals don’t exist in this cruel world and Ban’s perfect world was soon torn apart. Asaad’s brother was shot when they were both on their way back home after a trip, and Asaad went to pursue the shooter. “All I could see was red at first, I needed to go after the savage that shot my brother” is what he said to justify the fact that he kept running towards the shooter even after he had already been shot… “After the second shot, I realized that I forgot to think about you and the family, so I stopped. I’m sorry, Ban.” It didn’t matter anymore. Asaad had died due to the terrible hospital conditions, leaving Ban to care for and support her children, the eldest being only 10.
Sadly, every time she tried to take a step forward, the world pushed her ten steps back. This was the root of her depression. At the worst point of her life, she felt like she was fighting a one-sided battle against herself, discovering a new "rock bottom", every single day. This is when she thought of 'joining' Asaad. "I keep hearing that god damn hospital monitor going blank! When I shut my eyes, when I play with the kids, when I try to think about what's happened, it's all I can hear! I just want to make it stop! I just want to see him again!" When she tried reaching out for help, she was told ‘silly’ things like “mental health” or “depression” don’t exist as in Iraq. They were thought to be made up excuses by lunatics, so she had no one to turn to. At the same time, she could not bear to live without the love of her life, but soon after, she realized she had five other loves of her life that she still had to take care of.
This epiphany struck her mind one week after Asaad's death, when some man knocked on her door, to take the family business. She was furious with the landlord. "You don't get it, do you? I didn't just lose a husband, my daughters lost the man that was supposed to walk them down the aisle, my boys lost the one male role model every little boy is supposed to learn from, and now you want to take away our property?" Now she had no means to feed her three girls and two boys. Yet this is where she started to dig herself out of her hole. Now she had something to protect. Now in her mind she had something to live for.
More hardships came, but with her kids in mind, she remained defiant. This shaped her into the great woman she is today, as not once did she give up or listen to the voices that discouraged her. After two years of hard work and dedication, this strong woman managed to bring herself from thoughts of suicide to gathering all the money she could find and bringing her kids to a safe haven; Canada. Here they were able to start a new life and she immediately started building a name for her family.
However, her struggle towards achieving happiness did not stop there. This is because, sure, she was able to bring them to a safe environment free of war, but she also put them in a foreign world isolated from all of her family and any possible support. Due to the fact that her children were all so young, she knew that in order for them to actually survive, she had to ignore all of the negative thoughts in the back of her head and work even harder than before. As a result, she ended up balancing five part-time jobs while still managing to be a full-time mother and ‘father’.
Now, if you look up any statistics about single mothers or newcomers with a mental health battle, you almost always find a negative response. Ban knew about all of these stats, but she decided to ignore and work towards destroying them. She sacrificed all mental, social, and physical aspects of her life, subjugating her personal needs, in order to shape five children into strong successful people. This is what made her such an outstanding woman and role model for not only single mothers, but also for everyone who had been knocked off of their feet multiple times and felt like they had no mental power to get back up. After continuous hard work and resilience, Ban was able to raise her children to become successful young adults. Not only that, but she also started to help others that are in the same position that she was once in. Even though the world still throws a couple of roadblocks in front of her, she always manages to come out on the other side.
If this wonderful woman never pulled herself out of the mental ditch she was once in, her five children and everyone she helped would simply be part of another negative statistic. She gave her kids the gift of life twice: once when they were first born and the second when she saved them from the war and brought them to Canada. In fact, without this woman, I would have never been able to sit here and tell you about this story, so I guess all that is left to say is “Thank you, Mom.”
This is a place to see shared stories and experiences submitted by young people. It represents the truth of the people who submitted their stories.