As I’m struggling to zip up my long winter jacket while balancing my backpack and cell phone, I realize the only time I have to call my mom for her birthday is during my walk to my 8 a.m. class.
I dial the home number. When she softly answers, “Hello,” I begin singing “Happy Birthday.”
“Aw, thank-you!,” she says. She sounds like an animated cartoon character, overly excited. It must be a disguise for something — she cannot be that cheerful over turning another year older.
She asks if I’m going to class soon, and I tell her that I’m walking to my class as we speak. I ask when she’s leaving for work. “I guess I haven’t told you,” she says . “Things over the past few weeks at work haven’t been so good.”
My mom has been working at the Daily News for 10 years and has won employee awards and recognitions. She has had a couple of bad days here and there, but never more than that. Never something she would tell me about. After all, she’s a single mother of two children and always strove to be the best role model she could be.
“I heard I was being laid off, so I called in sick today,” she says. “I didn’t want to get laid off on my birthday. That can happen tomorrow.”
Everything around me blurs. I stop listening to what she is saying. I’m focused on my own anxious thoughts.
How will I pay for school? Will I need to take out loans? Will we have to move? Will she be able to pay the bills?
I’ve heard about this situation happening to other people-it can’t happen to me. I’ve never been a statistic before, and I am certainly not ready to become one now.
I approach the building my class is in and say good-bye to my mom on the phone. As I walk into class, all I can think about is what is to become of my life in Bellmore, if there will even still be a life there when I get home.