The Unexpected Gifts and Letters From the Streets


My mother left me with many gifts.  Some of which were wonderful some of which I hate myself for inhabiting every single day.  She died 10 years ago on September 13th of this year 2018.

She was gone for about 10-15 years of my life when I was young, living on the streets, homeless shelters, being drunk, not being my mother and snorting cocaine.  What a gift. To her it was, as she said the addiction got the best of her and the gift to me was not seeing her that way.  The hole that left in my soul still feels bigger then not having her physical body in the world.

I would be silly to think for one second that during those 10-15 years I was forgotten.  In fact I was very much present in her mind but I wouldn’t know that until much later when I cleaned out her apartment after she died and put some things away for when I could stomach looking at her handwriting.  She had very distinct handwriting and wrote everything with the emotion as if that day was her last day on the earth.

I found journal upon journals of those years she was homeless, written to me, her daughter.  They all started with Dear Yani, or Yani pear.  She always said when I was little my face looked like a pear because my head was so small but my cheeks were so fat that I looked like a pear. She was obsessed with pears.

She wrote letters to me from the cars she slept in, the tracks she rested on, the cots she relied on and the cold winter air.  Countless letters and stories telling me why she wasn’t at my concerts, how her addiction had won, how she just wasn’t feeling well, again.  Story after story of how much she loved me, wished she could be there for me, told everyone about me and thought about her sweet Yani pear every day.

That was a gift

“Dear Yani, the movie Stella is coming out tomorrow.  We didn’t get to see Beaches together.  I’d really like to see Stella with you, if I can.” Valerie Lake, 1/24/88

She wrote many wishes like this on pages and pages of torn old paper that still smell like smoke.  She smoked three packs of cigarettes a day since she was 10 years old.  It was the emphysema that ultimately killed her in the end.

She was a gift

My mother never met my daughter Blessing who we adopted in November 2017.  The three of us are quite alike despite the years we were never physically around each other.  You could most definitely define the three of us as stubborn, feisty, and brave with laughter that could fill rooms for days.   Every time I look at my daughter it reminds me of the love I longed for with my mother over all those years she was gone.  The warm squeeze of a hand, the gentle brush of a forehead, the intimate touches that only mothers and daughters know.

I didn’t realize those moments were the ones that would eventually lead me to rehab.

That was a gift

I miss my mother every day, despite what a fucking crass bitch she could often be. I respected that about her.  The best thing she ever taught me was to think for myself.  I teach my daughter the same.   She eventually did sober up herself and died a dry drunk with me by her side.  I can’t say she made my life easier or even manageable, but I can say that missing her and being able to name my daughter after her has been the greatest gift of all.

Ayanna is the Owner and Founder of B FREE Coaching and Wellness based on Cape Cod MA.  Find more here: facebook bfreebualways                IG findrecoverevolvenjoy 

7 thoughts on “The Unexpected Gifts and Letters From the Streets

  1. Omg. AYANNA.
    I needed to read this today, this moment….
    Thank you for posting this on fbk and sharing your story…

    You are soooo powerful…and such a profound energy and influence to every one that comes in contact with your presence….

    And what power in the words…your energy carries!

    I now understand and have a deeper clarity in a different way about this gift,- and it is a healing balm of understanding ….that I needed especially today, because someone I deeply and profoundly love gave me this gift too.

    Infinite Gratitude ♡


  2. Thank you for sharing your story Ayanna. As the mother of my adopted daughter Andrea, I can only guess at the loneliness and despair addiction causes.


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