Google says that the definition of home is: “The place where one permanently lives.” Four walls, some windows, and a roof. How can one take such a heavy word and attach it to a dry definition? The typical dream home is painted with a white picket fence, freshly clean cut grass, and a stone pathway to the front porch that kisses a dark blue welcome mat. They say home is where the heart is, but for me it was something as simple as my mother’s presence. She was a warrior for nine months. Fighting morning sickness, nausea, backaches, and fatigue. For nine months I was surrounded by her warmth and entertained by the orchestra of her voice. For nine months I was blessed enough to hear the thump thump, thump thump, of her heartbeat.
It was my first year of middle school when the bruises started to bloom on my body, creating their own garden. The black and purple specks began to paint me like a canvas. As the bruises multiplied and spread like flowers, it became easier to come home with lips locked like a treasure chest with all my pain. It felt normal. It felt normal to feel alone. The first time my mother found the bruises on my body, her eyes were filled up with tears reflecting her inner sorrow. That night I was comforted with a soothing back rub while laying on my mother’s chest listening to her heartbeat. The steady sound of her breathing and the repetitive movement of her chest rising and falling made me think that everything was going to be okay. My mom always had a way of making everything seem okay, even when I knew it wasn’t. When everything was falling apart, that’s when I needed her most. Her kind and wise words were like poetry to my ears, calming me down with every word. When everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong, I knew I could go home. Not to four walls. But to a warm body and a heartbeat.
I’m seventeen now, and it’s been about one year since I’ve heard my favorite heartbeat. It’s been about twelve months since the orchestra of her voice has swooned these four walls. It’s been exactly 327 days since I’ve been able to come home. When most people think of home they think of four walls, some windows, and roof. And now I do too.
Raven Hollins is eighteen years old. She attends Heritage High School in North Carolina. She loves to write, paint, draw and play clarinet.