By Sonja Harmon: My mother was an alcoholic. I had only ever seen her sober one year out of my life. That was only because she was on probation for a DUI.

My grandmother raised me the majority of my life while I was in and out of her house, my aunt’s house, or a friend’s house. I can still remember the fights, the screaming and yelling that would happen when my mother was drunk and around. I remember everything like it was yesterday. I’d beg and plead with her to just stop drinking, to make things better and be a mom.

Fast forward to my senior year of High School. It was October of 2004 and I felt like everything was finally settling down and getting in order. I was set to leave in June 2005 to Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas for basic training right after graduation. It was all I ever talked about. The only thing that I have ever wanted to do since I was a little girl. Nothing else was part of my plan.

On October 9th my mom turned 41. The night after, she went into the hospital. To this day I still don’t know why she went in. still actually don’t know what happened. I woke up to get ready for school on the 11th and was told that the nurses had to resuscitate her at 1am and then had no option but to put her on life support.  I went to school that morning and as I was going through my notes for the morning, the teacher walked over with a slip of paper saying that I needed to leave immediately -- that the family was called in to the hospital.

My mother was on life support still when I walked into her room for the first time. I couldn’t get out a goodbye.  Everything happened in slow motion and I couldn’t grasp what was happening. Four hours later, she was taken off of Life Support and died. I was only 17. She was only 41.

After graduation, I didn’t leave for basic training. I didn’t leave for college. I wasn’t mentally there to train to fight or to apply myself to school again. I slipped into a deep depression. I cried every single day and I was angry at everyone. I was angry with God for taking her away right before Prom and Graduation and leaving for the Air Force. I didn’t understand why he would take her. I was so angry.

3 years after she passed away, I met my husband. 2 years after the wedding I became pregnant. One of the biggest events that a girl should have her mom by her side for, and she wasn’t there. Even though I was still angry with Him, I prayed and prayed that God would give me peace and give me the strength to get through this pregnancy.

My daughter was born in February 2011 and I immediately had PPD (post partum depression). I thought the depression that I dealt with after losing my mother was bad, but nothing -- nothing -- compares to PPD. I was angry and I had no idea what I was doing. I cried constantly. I was angry with my husband for never helping or trying to understand what was wrong. I was terrified of the baby and terrified for her all at the same time. I stayed awake for three days straight making sure she was breathing throughout her naps and bedtime.

Being a mom did get better, but it wasn't without its costs.  Still, the cards that I’ve been dealt have made me that much stronger. I’ve been given a second chance at living, and a chance to raise my daughter as the mother I never had. I get to show her how to be strong -- and how to be loved.