The Journey

Dear Mom,

I miss you so badly. I haven’t forgotten you, and I hope you can hear me. I remember it clearly, the day you slipped away. I didn’t get to kiss you goodbye on the hand. I wish that I could see you again, but I know that I can’t. As I sit here and listen to “Slipped Away” by Avril Lavigne, a song that I dedicate to you, I realize how I can relate to the words.

I am writing this letter to let you know that the day you passed away was very heartbreaking. It was so hard for me to say goodbye because I felt that I wasn’t there for you like I should have been. It was hard for me to realize that you were truly gone and out of my life. I was hurt because, when you passed away, I found out that you had not only diabetes but also HIV. Why didn’t I know you were HIV positive? Why didn’t you tell me? There were so many unanswered questions that left me with more heartache and pain.

When my brother, Danny, called to tell me that you were being admitted to the hospital, I should have left sooner to see you. I just waited until it was too late. I’m truly sorry that I waited to leave until Danny called the second time, telling me I had to arrive immediately because you weren’t looking so well. Maybe I would have had a chance to tell you how special you are in my life.

Why did I wait until 1:00 a.m. to see you at the hospital? By the time I arrived, I wasn’t allowed to go upstairs to see you. When I called upstairs, the nurse told me you were already deceased. I wasn’t sure if I had heard correctly. When I asked again, she told me you had passed away.

Hearing that nurse say the words “passed away” and seeing Danny coming toward me, holding your belongings with blood on them, made my world crumble. Not getting a chance to let you know that I was happy you were my mother or to say my last farewell has left me heartbroken for years.

Mom, know that I was never mad at you for not telling me you had HIV, despite the questions I have. I understand how hard it must have been to tell your kids. I know the last thing you wanted was to worry us.

As I write this letter to you, I’m giving life to your newest granddaughter. Her name will be Emily Anne, and she’ll be my fifth child. I gave you five grandchildren. Their names are Edwin, Sakayla, Chelsie, Preston, and now Emily. I hope you’re happy with who I have become and everything I do in my life. I’ve accomplished so much after your passing and continue to do more every day.

I love you, my one and only beautiful mother, who I look so much like. We miss you dearly, our angel. Always remember you live through me, Danny, and our sister, Rebecca. I want to make you smile as you watch over us from the heavens above. Stay in peace, Mom.

Your daughter,


Portrait of Jeanette Viera Jeanette Viera was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but her parents met in Brooklyn. Her dream is to open a beauty salon in New York called Jeanette’s Beauty, Wanna Be a Cutie. She hopes that her children continue to grow, become wiser, and enjoy life. At Project Reach Youth of the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone, her teacher is John Kefalas.