Compilation Of Life Pieces

By Jade VanBuren • June 27, 2017

One Big Pond

As a child you think that nothing bad could ever happen to you. Every child growing up believes they are living in a perfect little glass house that could never shatter. In my case, my perfect little glass house shattered and I was left picking up all the pieces. A child does not ever think to themselves that their parents are going to split up, or that one of them is going to move to a different country, or even a continent! Nobody wants their perfect little family, or their perfect little house to fall apart. In fact, I had picked up each piece in attempt to glue them back together.

It all simply started with my mother wanting to go back to college. I was about ten years old at the time but can vividly remember the events. My father had been dropping subtle hints about him not wanting her to go back to school, but felt that he had to let her. Meanwhile, my mother had already enrolled and had been accepted to Marian University. Not even a few days later she decided she was going to study abroad in Europe.

We had found out that all of the professors’ kids were able to go along on the trip. My mother was furious. She asked if she was able to bring my sister and I along, and had found out that she could not. She fought it, and argued and eventually got the thumbs up to letting us come.

My mother was only going to bring my younger sister Kilie because she was technically only my mother’s child. You see my sister and I have different dads so it makes things a little difficult to work out at times. I had to sit through countless bake sales and watch newspapers interview my mom and my sister about going to England.

I was jealous, I was angry, and I wanted to be treated equally!

My dad did not want me to go along to England. It was almost impossible to make him say yes or agree to anything. After begging and bothering my dad finally agreed to let me go on the trip to mission “impossible” made possible. Now it was my turn to do bake sales, and be interviewed by the newspaper. Suddenly I was the star in my own show.

Daddy’s girl, that’s what I was indeed. Almost every sport I was in, he had insisted to become the coach or at least help out with whatever he could. He had made it a priority to be at every single sporting event I had been involved in. My dad was my number one fan, and was always there to cheer me on. He was my super dad, he was his very own super hero that I had admired. I wasn’t like most girls. I didn’t like to wear dresses or the cutesy little makeup stuff. That wasn’t me. I preferred to wear T-shirts and boys’ basketball shorts. I was the typical tomboy. I always did things with my dad; from taking me to badger’s hockey games to the Milwaukee Brewer’s games, we did it all together.

Today was the day, I had just gotten a brand new Gameboy advance SP, a huge bag of candy, and my luggage was packed. We had started on our way to the Chicago O’Hare airport. It was a long drive; swerving in and out of traffic was starting to make me a little queasy. I decided that I should just sleep it off, and before I knew it we had reached our destination.

We walked through the airport to the final security gates just before we were about to board the plane. This was it. I had to say goodbye to my dad. My dad was a tough guy; I had never seen him shed a tear ever in all of my life. I looked at my dad, my superhero, and he was crying. Not just crying, but sobbing. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I knew I had to say goodbye to my dad but, I didn’t think it was going to be this hard. I gave my dad a tight squeeze, and told him that it would all be okay. I also told him that I would email him every day and would call whenever I was able to. That was it, that was all the time I had to say my goodbyes. We had to get moving.

We reached the final gates. My mom, sister and I handed our tickets to the flight attendant and walked through a tunnel that felt as if we were walking in the middle of the sky. As we walked through the plane to find our seats I was trying to believe that this was really happening. Am I, Jade Vanburen really going to live in England, and go to school there for a whole year? I am. This is real. When we reached our seats I had to try and shove my backpack into a little cabinet above my head that was shared between myself and a few others.

Once the plane started to take off I immediately pulled out my Gameboy and my sister and I began to play. This was going to be a long plane ride, considering it was an overnight flight.

The flight attendants started handing out dinner trays. When I finally received mine I turned my head in disgust. I can’t quite recall what this foreign dish was but I’m pretty sure it was some sort of fish. I decided to myself that I was just going to eat candy and peanuts for dinner and then probably watch the movie that was kept on replay all night. I watched the movie and started to doze off into a deep sleep.

I woke up to my sister shaking me. “WAKE UP, WAKE UP!” We were in England. This was it. This was the moment my life had changed forever.

We had to take a taxi to Harlaxton Manor and when we finally arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes. We had to go through a separate gate just to get to the college. This wasn’t any ordinary college. It was a castle. Is this Hogwarts? Is this a dream? What are we even doing here? Did we go the wrong way? Give the wrong directions? What’s happening? All of these questions were flying through my mind.

We slept in rooms that were like dorm rooms. Except in ours there was an extra bed. My sister and I slept in a bunk bed and my mom had a separate bed in the middle of the room.

After a few days of settling in and touring “Hogwarts” I felt a little better about my new surroundings. Except tomorrow we were going to start school, wearing UNIFORMS!

Ziggy was the man. He drove the bus that brought us to Harlaxton Primary school. I was in Year 5, which was equivalent to fourth grade in America. School was similar to America yet had clear differences. There were five other Jades in my class, so at times it got a bit confusing. I had to stand up in front of the class and introduce myself. Everyone wanted to be my friend, but only because I was an American.

One thing I will never forget, that has left a mark upon me, is when we had a spelling test in England. One word I will never forget, the word color. I spelled it like any other American would- color. But in England they add pointless letters mixed within words. They spell color with a u.

Another different thing they did in England that has also scarred me for life is gym time. Gym time, is just like gym class except here in elementary school you don’t change your clothes. In England, they do. In fact, they strip right down in the middle of classroom. Yes, both boys and girls are all changing in the same room. Can you say weird and awkward? It’s a good thing my teacher noticed I was feeling a bit out of place, and had let me change in the bathroom.

After a few months of living in England I had started to feel a bit uneasy about it. I had come down with what seemed to be a terminal illness known as home sick. Our headmaster which was the equivalent to a principal had let me email my dad almost daily during school hours. I told my dad numerous times that I had wanted to come home, to be with him again. I also told my mom. That’s when they had asked me if I actually did want to go home, and I said yes. They had both arranged for me to fly home on my own. I was young so there was going to be an arrangement for me to have my very own babysitter, well a flight attendant.

Yet again, I had packed all of my luggage and had to say goodbye once more. I wasn’t as sad the second time around because I was going to see my dad again!

Finally, I had felt like everything was going to be alright. I was on the plane and on my way home. Whenever I needed something all I had to do was press a button and my very own flight attendant was there at the tip of my fingertips.

I was almost home, almost to my dad.


I’ve never been happier to be yelled at to put on my seat belt. I could almost hear my dad laughing at me. I started on my journey with my “babysitter” to grab my luggage. I found my bags almost instantly. Then I looked around the corner and there he was, there was my dad with a huge smile on his face.

He asked me so many questions that I, myself barely knew the answers to. One question I did know the answer to was ‘where do you want to go to eat’. I knew I wanted to eat at Taco Bell. So, of course we ate Taco Bell and laughed and joked.

I felt happy to be back at home and in my own bed but, was saddened to know that my sister was still across the big pond. I still had to wait six months for her to come back, along with my mother.

Six months later, I had found myself back at the Chicago O’Hare airport. This time we were waiting for my mom and my sister to return.

I saw them rounding the corner only to realize that something was off. My mom didn’t seem too enthused to be back in the states. I didn’t focus on that though, I was just excited to have my best friend back into my life, and so we went home.

My mom and my dad seemed to be arguing a lot. Not even a few weeks later had my mom decided that she was going back to England. Why? I overheard her talking to my dad about how she had met another guy there and had wanted to go to be with him. What I didn’t understand was why she had to take Kilie with her. Oh yeah, because we don’t have the same dads so technically she could do whatever she wanted with her because Kilie’s dad didn’t care. Whereas, my dad did.

My mom and my sister left, just like that. In a blink of an eye, they were gone.

I was in fifth grade at the time, when my mom had left. My parents were going through a nasty divorce. My sister was gone. My dad was a wreck. There I was left picking up the pieces of my glass house that my mom had smacked to the ground. I had to grow up faster than any kid would ever want to. I had to help take care of my brothers and make sure they were ready for school. Everyone looked to me. I had to be responsible. I had to take on responsibilities that no fifth grader should have to.

To this day, as a freshman in college my mother has missed out on countless holidays, birthdays, my junior prom and even my graduation. On the plus side my sister lives with my dad, my brothers, and I. He fought to gain legal custody of my sister through the court systems and succeeded. My dad is my hero. He was my sole caretaker. He was my super mom and my super dad.

Even though my mom hasn’t been around for almost anything, I still talk to her. I mean even though she has let me down a lot, at the end of the day she is still my mom and I yearn for that mother daughter relationship with her. I still haven’t forgiven her for everything she has put me through but, I had also found the positive through it all. Without this whole experience I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I am strong, emotionally I can handle almost anything thrown my way. Yes, I have the negative effect as well, I do have trust issues but with time there is no problem. I have a tattoo on my side that I never would have thought of without going through this whole experience. It says “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only option.”

I am strong. I am changed. Most of all, I am forgiving and loved.

Part Two

I’d like to add some more details that I had kept out on purpose in the thought that I wouldn’t be ready to share those yet. With some thought, I feel that everything I have been through, the mistakes I made, and the lessons I have learned along the way are meant to be shared. I feel that it is one of my sole purposes on this earth to share them with all of you. So, here goes nothing.

With my mother gone, and my having to grow up too fast caused me to start to think sort of irrationally. It was seventh grade nearing about eighth grade if I remember correctly. It seemed that my mother had been gone forever along with my sister, and I thought that I had one more trick up my sleeve to get them back.

Each and every day, almost every night I had prayed and prayed in the hopes that somehow in some way that God would work his miracles. I thought that miraculously one day I would come home from school and see my mom standing there waiting. Or, that I would wake up and find her there. Each day of thinking that she would come home brought suffering, heart break, and altogether misery.

I knew I had other people and that they loved me just as much, if not more. Don’t get me wrong I know I have a lot of people who love and support me and I truly am thankful for all of it, but it’s just not the same thing. I wanted my mom, I needed my mom. Yes, I have a wonderful dad who has been nothing short of amazing to all of us kids and even he understood that a girl needed her mom.

I remember nights where I would just cry myself to sleep. I can also remember my dad crying because he felt that he had failed on us kids, in which he hasn’t. This is when I learned that in life you can’t control anyone but yourself.

My dad tried so hard to fill that role. He would take me shopping and always gave his input on what I had picked out. Granted I was a tomboy so it was a little easier. I remember my dad giving out money to Gina, or Tracy, or even past girlfriends to take me shopping because he just thought he wasn’t doing it right. He was, I remember when we would always go swimsuit shopping he would chuck stuff at me and tell me to hurry up and people would look at us funny. Maybe it wasn’t just because he picked on me or would joke around but maybe it was because he didn’t even look as if he could have a daughter that age.

As I continually prayed every night for my mom to come back, and she didn’t I started to not only think that everything was my fault but had started to direct blame onto God. How could he do this to me? What could I have possibly done to deserve this? What about my brothers? I felt terrible Keegan was barely going to remember our mother’s presence in his life, and Brennan was such a momma’s boy that my heart ached for him.

I had a really awesome support system throughout all these traumatic events in my life. In sixth grade I had an amazing group of friends, and had connected really well with my school counselor who gradually became an amazing “mother” role model to me in my life. So, thank you Jess for always being there for me; back then, and today, you really are awesome!

I remember in sixth grade, I was walking home from school and my mother had called me. She always made the effort to call me and at that point in my life I had despised her and the idea of talking to her. I had been waiting for her to call me all week I knew there was going to come a time where I needed to tell her how I felt and about how much she had hurt me. I told her how I felt, I told her to f*** off, and that I hated her and that she was wrong for everything she had done. That’s when I heard my mom crying on the other side of the phone. I had hurt her. I mean why should I care because all she has done is hurt me. I cared because I am a good person, and to that day and this day on, I vowed that I would never do such a thing like that again. I felt bad for my mom, she was sick. Yes, she screwed up and left her life here to do God knows what but at the end of the day, the voice on the other side of the phone is my mom and she does love me even if she has a poor way of showing it.

My mother had missed many of my birthdays, holidays, sporting events, my prom, my graduation, and many more events that still to this day I am a little upset about. I just have to keep reminding myself that these are all things that can keep building me into a stronger person. On a side note, I think ever since my mom has been out of my life she has probably been to three or four of my hockey games, and that I probably have two pictures with her total.

Things were going so great for me and then came the bad. I had started to lose sight of what was best for me and started to hang out with the wrong crowd. It was eighth grade going into freshman year when things really started to hit rock bottom.

The friends that I had were and are not to blame because everybody makes their own final choices and decisions right? Right.

I had my first sip of alcohol, had tried smoking marijuana. Yes, many of you thought I was a little angel who would never do such a thing (Sorry dad, the truth has come out). I wasn’t I was heavily influenced on doing the wrong thing that I didn’t even know what right had meant anymore.

I hated myself, I hated God, and had basically lost hope on everything.

My mom had been in and out of my life constantly. She would come back, tell us she was going to stay and then just like that she was gone. Sometimes she didn’t even say good bye to me because she knew how I had felt about the whole situation. Every time she said she was going to come back, I was always hesitant because who knew if she was telling the truth. No one, but herself. I can recall my brothers getting so excited to see my mom, and then something magically came up, and she wasn’t there. My brothers were crushed. I had grown accustomed to the idea of my mom not being there.

After hitting rock bottom, I knew I had to find a way out some way, somehow. That’s when I met Tyler. It was sophomore year and Tyler and I had just started talking. He noticed that the friends that I had and the things we were doing weren’t okay and had talked to me about it. Tyler had finally asked me to be his girlfriend and without hesitation I said yes. That’s when he told me that if we were going to make this work I had to clean up my act.

I thought about it. I thought what happened to my old friends? Why did I ever lose sight of them? When did I start hanging out with this crowd?

As I thought, my old group of friends had let me back in. They were there for me, and had helped me back up and brushed off the dirt from my shoulders. So thank you, to Alex, Olivia, Sydney, Paloma, Jenna, Kelsey, and Shyler. You guys are all nothing short of amazing. Tyler was right, I needed to clean up my act.

I started to talk to older people, and had met one person who insisted that I go to youth group with her. At this point in time I had still hated God and everything he had put me through but thought that I should just give it a shot.

That’s where I met the most amazing person that anyone could ever meet in their whole entire lifetime, Gwen Loomans. She and I ended up talking and discussing what I had been through. She is the one person who told me that God always has three answers; either not now, I can’t, or yes. God’s answer for me was that he can’t because I needed this to realize different things about myself. I am who I am because of everything I had been through.

I had started back on the right path, the path with God. I then continued to pray every night again but, this time I wasn’t asking for my mom back, I was just talking. Thanking him for everything that I did have, all of the people who loved me and cared about me, the clothes on my back, my wonderful dad, and everything else in between.

I had also started to get more involved with school, and all of its activities. Junior year was the year I really started to do a lot. Again, thank you for reading this and I will try and keep adding more and more when I feel I’m ready and that the time is right.

Fear of the Unknown

Fast forward to present day; I have just finished my Junior year of college and am beginning my senior year. As I sit here, I think of all the things I want to write and the one thing that keeps coming to mind is the word—worthless. Now I know I am not a worthless person, nor do I feel I am. However, sometimes the word just hits you where it hurts, and it gets to you. I don’t feel that I have a lot of insecurities about myself. I do feel though that my biggest insecurity has stemmed from my past. I fear that I won’t be loved. Now I know I am loved, and am very loved to say the least. Day in and day out, I strive to be a good person because I want people to feel that mark that I have left upon them. I try to be that friend that everyone can go to when they need someone, because I want to be loved. I try to be a helping hand for anyone who needs it. But when I need someone, where are they? Again, I know I have people so I’m not trying to bash them by any means. I just struggle with asking for help when it is needed. I will be the first person to stick up for any one on the face of the earth, but when it comes to myself I will back down. I hardly ever stick up for myself, which is really a weak point for me. BUT, I do have a reasoning for why I am this way. When I was in sixth grade, I remember walking home from school, specifically I was by the Rock River taking the ‘shortcut’. My mother had called me, and at this age I was really just taking in what had all really happened in my life and realized that I was passed the point of being sad and feeling sorry for myself. Better yet, I was angry. I told my mother how I felt about the situation, and said some really hurtful things, that to this day I regret. As I’m typing this, I am feeling exactly how I felt that day; worthless. On the other end of the phone, my mother had stopped talking… All I heard on the other end of the phone was my mother sobbing… From that day on regardless of what happened, I told myself that I would never make someone feel so miserable and so worthless ever again. I could not put someone in that place of misery and hurt. People always have asked why I would never stick up for myself and here it is.

Again, I don’t want a pity party or for people to feel bad for me by any means. I just want people to see that when bad things happen, you can still make the most of it and come out on top. The biggest thing that my dad has always told me is that you can only control you, you can’t control what other people are going to do. I will forever hold onto that, and maybe that’s why I have become such a patient and caring person, because I can control that. Another thing I hold onto is something I actually learned in a work training, “Every behavior meets a need”. Indeed not all behaviors are usually acceptable and most people are too quick to react. Take a step back, revaluate and think about what happen, and the possible reasons why. I know, I try not to overthink things, but again that’s who I am, and that’s what I do. Lastly, I want to touch on the word forgiveness. It’s thrown around a lot, but do people actually forgive. Forgiveness is very important, it’s the most important in order for you to move on and move past something. I’ve been through so much, and I have learned that forgiving someone, even if they’ve caused so much pain lifts more off of your shoulders than you will ever realize. It takes a lot more out of you when you are trying with all your might to hate or hold a grudge towards someone.

I love writing all of this stuff, it really makes me feel a sense of relief when I’m feeling like I’m slipping into a dark hole. It helps when I have all of these feelings, but I can’t quite make out exactly how I’m feeling. Also, I just want people to realize that things can turn out and if someone needs someone to talk to, I’m always willing.

As a 21 year old going into her senior year of college I have accomplished so much, and am only aiming to accomplish more. I have recently joined the National Honor Society for Social Work, and have become the president of it. I have recently been promoted to the Assistant Program Manager of a group home. I am making the honor roll. The saying is true, “Good things come to those who wait”. I have worked really hard to achieve all of these goals, and you can do it too. Don’t let little things bring you down. Persevere and push on, it’ll come. Make the best of your hand of cards, play them when they’re right, and be patient.

Sorry this is so all out of order, this is just how it all makes sense to me.


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