My greatest confidant

Here is how incredible my mother is: Summer Braun let me leave the country, move to a foreign nation, live with a host family she would never meet, and navigate on my own for an entire year studying abroad at 16 years old.

If I ever get to be a mother one day, there is no way in hell I will let my kid to do that. Not a chance. My mom lost a year with me, and our semi-monthly Skype calls couldn’t make up for that. But she knew all this, and let me live out my adventure anyway.

I remember reading the email that announced I had won the scholarship to study abroad out loud to my mom. I couldn’t even get through the first line before I started crying. I was crying out of excitement, but I was also crying out of total fear, because I was actually doing it now – it wasn’t just a dream. And I felt totally unprepared.

Thank god for my Mom, who hugged me stupid tight and reminded me of how lucky I was and how great the opportunity would be. She cried too, and at the time, I just thought it was out of excitement, but now I know some of it was due to fear, too. We were both scared.

But, like the wonderful woman she is, she never let me see that fear. She was stronger than strong for me, so that I would be strong, too. And without that strength, I think the best year in my life would have gone a lot differently.

The week before I left for Germany, my mom broke out in full body hives. She was stressed out to let me go, but she never made me feel guilty of my choice. She was the epitome of proud and excited for every second of that week, all that I needed her to be. And I lived out that year to the fullest – I wanted to do it for both of us.

Mom, you are more amazing and impressive than you will ever know, and I could not ever thank you enough for the confidence and strength you always gave me.

So many people have told me that I am a reincarnation of you – if this is true, I am more than okay with it. You are my first best friend and my greatest confidant, and I don’t know what I would ever do without you or your guidance.

Thank you for all that you are, Summer Lee. You are my sunshine.