Michelle: A tribute

My mum was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known. She was my idol, my best friend. She died when I was 16 due to complications linked to Sickle Cell Anaemia.

Sickle Cell, a bugger of a genetic disease to say the least but what is it? It's a lifelong inherited health condition that affects red blood cells. Those with sickle cell disease have crescent-shaped blood cells, which can block blood vessels and cause a multitude of problems. It significantly shortens life expectancy; My mum died aged 42. It predominately affects people whose origins are in places where malaria is prevalent, usually affecting people of black and Asian descent. Blood transfusions offer temporary relief to excruciating symptoms and can prolong life in an emergency. My mum often needed them. Thank you to all blood donors. You help people like my mum every day and give people like me more time to spend with people like my mum.

My mum was sick a lot. I saw her cry, in pain, and in-hospital dosed-up on medication, giving her a break from the excruciating pain she often endured. My mum limped, used a crutch, and often needed a wheelchair.

My mum experienced racism too. She cried after work. My dad told me some of the comments they had during their marriage and before I was born.

I remember her beaming at the tv when Obama was announced USA’s president. I also remember her boycotting Girls Aloud after that infamous incident with the group’s member Cheryl. My mum was very proud to be black. She’d always emphasise that I, too, was black. She flew me to Barbados to ensure I knew of my heritage and met my family. It’s there I met my Uncle Philip and his hand-built boat that he named Michelle, after my mum.

My mum was always the life and soul of every party. Her smile lit up every room she ever walked in. Her happiness and positive outlook on life were highly infectious. My mum was the strongest, bravest, loveliest person with a heart of pure gold. She suffered so much and still put everyone else before her. My mum was incredible. No words will ever do her justice but every day I hope I make her proud. Even though she’s not here, she is my everything.

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