‘She came home from work ten minutes late, mom beat her to a pulp. That was the night I told her to escape’

None of us were wanted. But Diamond was born first. So she had it the worst. She was the one who took away our mother’s childhood.

And Mom never forgave her for that, so she didn’t let Diamond have a childhood either. She had to take care of all of us.

I remember the day my little brother came home from the hospital. Diamond had to start watching him right away. She was only ten years old at the time. But she was doing bottles, diapers, everything.

HONY

She never got to play. She never got any friend time. Or if she ever did, she had to bring my little brother along in a stroller. When our little sister was born, it became a double stroller. Diamond made sure we ate.

My mom was weird about food. She’d always make us dinner on Sunday. But during the rest of the week we were hungry all the time. Diamond just kept feeding us snacks: Welches fruit snacks, Cheeze-It’s, Honey Buns.

I can’t stand the taste of those things anymore. None of us can. There was only one bedroom in the apartment. It was ‘The Bedroom,’ for my mom. And that’s where the hitting happened.

HONY

There was a lot of it. Diamond got it the worst. She tried to shield us from it. Diamond’s dark. She never bruised, she welted. She’d come out of the bedroom, crying. But she’d say: ‘I’m fine, I’m fine.’

She’d tell us to go watch Sponge Bob. Or read our books. It’s because of Diamond that I read so much.

One night Diamond came home from work ten minutes late. And my mom beat her to a pulp. That was the night I told her to escape.

I told her ‘Never come back, Diamond. Never come back.’ And she never did. She went to foster care. She was in a shelter for a while.

HONY

But she ended up getting her degree. And she’s still taking care of me in a way. When I had nowhere to go after college, Diamond let me move in with her.

She doesn’t have a great job right now. She’s raising a toddler by herself. But she’s still helping me pay for classes, so I can go to nursing school. I know she’s so tired.

She’s been a mom since she was a little kid. Diamond’s exhausted. But she’s never closed the door on me. And I just wanted to say thank you. Cause I don’t know if I ever really said it. Thank you for saving my life.

Update from HONY:
$10,000 from the Humans of New York Patreon was given to Diamond and Jonnelle to help with nursing school and other expenses.

Jonnell’s email is jonnellrichard@gmail.com. I know she’s having a little trouble navigating nursing school applications right now. She already has a BA so is looking for an accelerated program. If anyone would like to mentor her through this process, or would like to provide other assistance, please reach out.

About the author:
This story first appeared on Humans of New York Facebook page and is published here with permission. For more amazing stories and photography buy the book HUMANS by Brandon Stanton.

(If you wish to submit an essay (reflections on life), personal story (inspirational or humorous) or something that you witnessed that inspired you, please go HERE.)

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