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Tianna, 23, Tuscon, Arizona

For many years I could not forgive my mother for taking her life. My mother had a lot of problems …[in] her 29 years, but I could not understand why she would choose to leave me alone in this world. She committed suicide when I was seven—I was in the room next to hers.

I [was] angry with her for many years because I … had no one to turn to once she left me. It always made me so sad to think that I was not good enough to live for. This was not an accident; she chose to leave me—a 7-year-old child—alone. Only recently have I come to terms with this. This had nothing to do with me. She obviously [had] a lot of pain in her life to take such drastic measures.

I have chosen to succeed in my life despite the fact that many people thought I would end up just like her. I chose not to use my past as an excuse to not succeed. I will do great things in my life due to all the adversity I have overcome. In realizing that, I had to forgive my mother for not being as strong as I am. I forgive her for letting go of all the pain.

I carry her memory with me everywhere I go, and when I accomplish something, I believe she would be proud. Forgiveness is a blessing. I can now honor her memory instead of defending it.