Christina Spann draws her strength from her mother, Dr. Shelia Spann.
No day goes by that I don't think of her. I sometimes wonder how she found and continues to find the willpower, and I have for many years.
Losing my father when I was 6 seemed like the end of the world to me; my mother had to be both parents. Everything happened so fast. The courage that she had to tell my brother and I that my dad had passed away took strength I can only dream of having.
My mom tried really hard to maintain a sense of normalcy while everything around us was essentially at its breaking point. She kept us in the best schools, and made sure we had the latest trends and fashions. She tried to give us the whole world.
I remember when I first heard the word lupus—I thought it was such a silly word. But this five-letter word would become an uphill battle. We had just settled into our new home and were attempting to piece our lives back together when this new wave hit.
From middle school through college, my mom was placed on dialysis for her failing kidneys, which happened because of her lupus. Often I would do my homework in the dialysis waiting room. She would dialyze at night and attempt to put on a this healthy persona and direct a pharmacy the next day. Sometimes the dialysis would make her sick, and she would lose her footing and become weak. But, like the Energizer bunny, she just kept going. As I graduated high school and entered college, it just seemed like dialysis was just another normal part of life. She had adjusted into somewhat of a routine. Receiving a kidney for a transplant was a possibility, but I did not see it as a something that would happen soon. When Vanderbilt University Hospital called and said that they had a kidney, I was in total shock.
I remember the seven-hour drive. I had to take a Valium to calm down, but my mom remained very calm and quiet. I was so worried that the outcome wouldn't be good, and the thought of not having her was enough to make me lose it. I remember as we got to the room after surgery, she was already awake, and had already peed—something that seemed so simple, but my mom had not peed in about seven years.
It's been 16 years since my dad passed away, and five years since she received her kidney. Her presence is brighter than ever. It's hard to believe that I am looking at the same woman. I am truly thankful for my mom, because of her love and sacrifice. My mother's love is selfless. My mom continues to teach me as I continue to grow—things like having faith in God, the value of perseverance and loving unconditionally.
When I'm with her this Mother's Day, I hope that she realizes that I celebrate and acknowledge her everyday, because her selfless love is the reason for my success today.