Evan Malik Bowie Third Place Winner in Grades 7 to 9
8th grade, 2 Rivers PCS – Nicole Clark (Teacher)
I was nine years old. My dad and my siblings dropped my mother off at work. Less than ten minutes later, we received a call. We returned to her job because the caller said my mom was headed to the hospital. She had fallen. My brother, my sister, and I began to cry. We didn’t know what was happening, but we knew that the ambulance outside was not good. Children were not allowed to go to the hospital, so my dad dropped my siblings and I off at my Nana’s.
An hour later, my dad returned and said, “she didn’t make it.” I knew right away that meant she had died, but I did not understand why. It was a Sunday morning, when she died and took a part of my heart with her. I was left feeling empty and vulnerable. Before that day, I didn’t even know my mother was sick. She had an enlarged heart that silently took her away from me.
The following week we did not go to school. Family members tried to distract my siblings and I from the hurt by taking us out to eat and roller skating. When I did return to school, everyone surrounded me and asked questions. They all wanted to know where I had been. I told them that my mom had died. My teacher, who had come to the funeral, gave me a big hug.
The whole school came together to support our family. They signed up to bring food to our home and set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money. My heart was filled with joy. I had no idea that so many people loved me and my family.
Every Saturday, we went to grief counseling to help us recover from the loss. It was group counseling. Other families who lost loved ones joined us and together we read, drew pictures, and shared how we felt. It was good to share with other people who had experienced something similar.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Of African American women 20 and over, 49% have heart disease. Many African American women don’t know that they have heart disease until their heart actually stops working. Like my mom, they leave behind a family full of loved ones who never got to say goodbye.
I want to help the community by bringing more attention to this silent killer. Women’s health, especially black women’s health, is often ignored because women are caring for everyone else instead of themselves. I want to make sure women get the same healthcare as men and that women know that they are at risk.
I would like black women with heart disease to know they have it and go to the doctor to get help before it’s too late. I would like to see more people stand up for women’s health. Lastly, I would like for people reading this essay to share with their community the devastation that untreated heart disease leaves behind.