Jordan Offutt
Jordan Offutt

Jordan O.

My strength comes from my mom, who is now my guardian angel.

My name is Jordan Hope. My experiences throughout my life are what make me a strong and powerful woman. I was born with cerebral palsy and I’ve never been able to fully walk on my own. My disability and the story of my life is what makes me a unique, strong woman. My best friend Meghan tells me that my heart is biggest she has ever seen. When I was a kid, my mom put me in braces and had me working with therapists to try and help me walk. But, I’ve always been in a wheel chair. Every day I try to get stronger and I can definitely stand up with a “hug” from a friend. I love to dance, sing, watch music videos and hang out with my friends. My life hasn’t been easy – I am grateful for every breath I take, cherish every moment with my friends and loved ones, and enjoy the sweetness in life. I am a survivor – I have made this beautiful life for myself and here is my story.

Growing up, my mom made sure to tell me often that all she wanted before I came into the world was to get pregnant and have a little girl. I was her dream come true. From the moment I was born, she loved me with her entire heart and soul; she was my best friend through everything. It took my mom forever to get pregnant and when she finally did, she could barely contain the excitement in her heart to have her own baby. Towards the end of her pregnancy, my mom got very, very sick and the doctors worried about my health as I was also very sick at the same time. The doctor did an emergency C-section on August 12 and I was delivered into this world early. I was really small when I was born and the doctors worried for my life, doing everything they could to nurse me to health. When I was born, my dad’s wedding band could fit over my hand and around my wrist. The doctors kept me in the newborn ICU doing everything they could to help me grow and become stronger on my own. When my mom told me this story, she said that all she wanted to do was hold me, but the doctors kept us separate because we were both sick. My mom never left my side from the day I was born.

My life took an unexpected turn when I was a young girl. My dad committed suicide when I was 10. My mom found him in the garage and the only thing I can remember is hearing my mom scream the loudest I’ve ever heard; there was so much pain in her voice, I knew something was wrong. We cried together for a long time. I remember not really understanding what had happened and how, but just feeling my heart broken and seeing my mom’s pain from losing her husband. From then on, it was me and my mom against the world.

My strength comes from my mom, who is now my guardian angel. When I was 19 years old when my mom passed away suddenly from heart failure. It was in September and we had just celebrated my birthday together. I was out hanging out with a friend one day and my mom had told me to call or text when I was done and ready to be picked up. I called her and called her, sent her text after text and she wasn’t responding – no response to anything. I knew something was wrong because this was not like her at all and she usually answered my calls and texts immediately. My friend was with me and so he took me to my house – maybe her phone was dead? He was knocking on the door and there was no response. We waited anxiously on the front patio in my chair and after some time we still had seen no sign of my mom in our house. He told me that he would never leave me there alone and he tried calling my mom too – we were desperately trying to get ahold of her. We left the house with a note on the front door to let my mom know where I would be in case she came home because I didn’t want her to worry about where I was if she got home. My friend brought me back to his house with his family and I stayed the night there. I woke up several times throughout the night checking my phone to see if my mom had called or texted me back – still no sign of anything. The next morning neither of us had heard from her still. We went back to the house and there was still no answer, no response… no nothing. My friend parked my chair in the driveway and ran around to the back of the house to hop the fence to the backyard. He went to the back door, which was unlocked, and got into the house. He walked in and found my mom sitting there, not breathing, not moving… He called 911 and came out to the front. He told me something was wrong with my mom but he didn’t say anything specific – I only wanted to see her and make sure she was okay. The police and the paramedic came, my aunt and uncle came. It was a flurry of sirens and people and it happened so fast.

I’ve never screamed like I did that day when the paramedics told me my mom had died. I started balling my eyes out, screaming, and numb. I have never cried so hard. I wailed. My heart was broken into a million pieces. I didn’t know what I was going to do without my mom – she did everything for me. I can’t get out of my chair without help, and she was the one who was always there to help me. Where would I go? Where would I live? My mom brought me to school; she helped me live a life as a normal kid; she loved me unconditionally. My mom was my best friend. For a moment, I didn’t know how I would go on without her.

My aunt told me that I would be living with her, and we went to my grandparents’ house to stay with my grandfather who had cancer in his esophagus at the time (he needed help around his house and couldn’t live alone anymore). My friend drove me to my grandparents and by the time we got there the police had already broke the news to them. We all mourned the death of my mother together. As a kid, you think your parents are invincible. I always thought of my mom as Super Mom – she could defeat an evil monster, she could save the world, she could do anything. I remember our last moments together and cherish them deeply – our last hug, the last time she tucked me into bed, the last time she told me she loved me. I can still hear her voice and feel her warm hugs.

I moved in with my aunt and she became my full-time care provider. After about a year with my aunt, I moved out on my own into an apartment with a roommate. It was time for me to become my own woman. I was able to have my own space, find time to heal from my mom’s death on my own, and just be myself again. I found a new sense of independence that I had never experienced before. I am a strong person for living on, for healing, for taking care of myself. My mom would be so proud of the woman I have become and I wish she was here to see me. That’s what makes me the saddest – knowing how proud she would be of me and how happy she would be to see me happy. Some days are harder than others – the holidays, my birthday, her birthday – but I get all my strength from my mama. My heart will always miss her, some days I will still cry, but every single day I try to make her proud and remember that ALL she wants for me is to be happy, to surround myself with people who love me, and to live my life exactly how I want to, wheelchair and all. I’ve got a guardian angel and absolutely NOTHING can stop me in this world. When I look in the mirror, I imagine my mom standing behind me. I am proud of myself and understand how strong I truly am.