This personal essay, ‘God Made Her Just For Me’ by Kieashia Edwell, was written in 2018.

Finding out I was pregnant at age 18, I was excited and afraid. Though I looked forward to caring for my baby, I worried about my ability to care for her. I had just graduated from high school in Columbus, Ohio, and was in a very toxic relationship. My naïveté led me to believe that our new bundle of joy would somehow change his abusive ways. We attempted to live together early in my pregnancy, but the violence I suffered at the hands of my daughter’s father soon caused me to leave. By the time I was six months pregnant, I was homeless.

With my family hours away in Pittsburgh, PA, I could not get support from them. My calls for help from my daughter’s father went unanswered, so I slept on a friend’s couch and eventually moved in with another friend and her four children right before my baby was due. I was grateful that she could give me a place to stay, but I longed for a place of my own to raise my little girl.

Kieashia Edwell portrait and personal essay for Single Mom Defined.

God Made Her Just For Me

In November 2005, when I felt the first contractions of my 14-hour labor, I was gripped with fear. I had always been the one to help care for the children for friends and family, but this child was mine. She would be my responsibility. What if I forgot everything I knew about the needs of a new baby? I was so scared. Being unable to reach my child’s father the entire time I was in labor amplified my fear. He wasn’t present at all during my labor or delivery. I was all alone. I spoke with my mother over the phone for a few minutes but had to rely on the support of a nurse who encouraged me and cheered me on as I brought my daughter into the world. When my baby girl entered the world, I knew God made her just for me. From that day on, it would be just she and I.

Attempting To Reconcile

Though I attempted to contact him by phone, two weeks had passed before my daughter’s father would lay eyes on his child. He stopped by for a visit. He told me he wanted us to try to rebuild our relationship. After I expressed that I refused to raise my child in a home where she would witness her mother being mercilessly beaten by her father, he promised to change his abusive ways and that the three of us would be a family. After much thought, I agreed to a plan to move to Pittsburgh, PA, where I would start over with my family to support us. When my baby was one month old, we packed our things and hopped on a Greyhound bus to Pittsburgh. I had no idea what to do when we got here, but I knew I needed a new start.

The relationship between my daughter’s father and me was short-lived, as verbal and emotional abuse began to occur. I demanded that he leave, and soon, he returned to Ohio, leaving the baby and me in Pennsylvania. Though I felt the weight of single parenthood heavier than ever, I was determined to build a prosperous life for my baby girl and me. I was a nursing mother but enrolled in college and got a part-time job while living with my mother and younger sisters. Soon, I was able to move us into our own apartment!

Leaning On God 

As the years passed, my daughter and I got into a great “mommy-daughter rhythm.” It had been just the two of us for so long, and we were like a team. Always together. When she was born, I said God made her just for me. Our bond showed God made us for each other. I was determined to raise her to know the Lord. I knew it was God’s plan that parents bring up their children to know and love Him with all their hearts. After all we had gone through, the Lord had never left our side. God could bring us through anything! She grew smarter, taller, and more beautiful every day. We began attending church, and I started to make new friends and build a solid foundation.

The Call I Never Thought I Would Receive

2008 began with the same promise and bright outlook as any new year. I worked full-time as a medical assistant and a part-time nursing student. Before we knew it, it was October, and we were gearing up for a busy fall and planning my daughter’s 3rd birthday. I didn’t realize it then, but I was about to be dealt a blow that would test my faith. It was a Sunday afternoon, and a group of us were enjoying a meal at the home of our senior pastors. I looked at my cell phone as we laughed, talked, and ate. I had a ton of missed calls from my God sister back in Columbus, Ohio. It was odd that she would call so many times, not to mention on a Sunday. I called her back. I could tell by her voice when she answered that something was wrong. She instructed me to sit down. She had bad news. My daughter’s father had been murdered late Saturday Night. Immediately, I screamed and cried. Everyone else looked at me with a confused look on their face. I couldn’t even bring myself to say the words.

What Do I Tell My Daughter

As I cried, my Pastor held me tight and helped me into another room. She didn’t want my baby to see me so upset. As I calmed down and explained what I had learned, I could only say, “What do I tell my daughter?” How could I explain this tragic event to a toddler? She held my chin in her hand, wiped my tears away, and said calmly & sweetly, “God will give you the words to say, and He will tell you when to say them.” Those words meant so much to me. I was encouraged to trust God. When I sat Baby Girl down a few days later, I believed that The Lord would give me the right words. And He did! I explained to Baby Girl that her daddy was gone. He loved her very much. She would always have her mommy to care for and love her.

Returning To Columbus 

The following week was challenging as we prepared to return to Columbus for the funeral. Although I had never suffered such a loss and had no idea how to guide my young child through her emotions, I had a peace that could have only come from God. I prayed often and asked The Lord to keep me. It was the first time I felt a comfort so sweet. Though it was tough, it was then that I learned to rest in the arms of God when my heart was in pain. I wanted to model for Baby Girl how to turn to God’s Word when she needed answers to complex questions. She and I would have (age-appropriate) talks about loss and how God’s love can heal us. We were also blessed to have the support of our church family, our pastors, and all the family and friends who kept us in prayer.

Discussing Grief With A Child 

I soon realized that discussing grief with a child did not begin and end with a single conversation. As my daughter grew, the questions changed, and they became more frequent. She wanted to know how he died, why God would take her father away, and if she would ever have a daddy again. It took much prayer and honesty to give the answers she needed, and sometimes, I had to humble myself and respond with, “I don’t know.” I couldn’t be afraid of the vulnerability that the lack of answers brought.

I was still feeling my way through my emotions and had to be honest with my daughter. It was also important to me that my daughter spend time with a child therapist to help her deal with emotions that I wasn’t equipped to handle. She began seeing a therapist that did wonders for her. She was taught skills for managing her grief. My faith also played a huge part in our healing process. We attended church regularly and read our bibles for comforting scriptures. I often reminded Baby Girl that the tough times we have in life don’t happen to break us but to make us stronger and help us lean even closer to God. He is our healer and our protection. He loves us and will always provide for us.

Kieashia's daughter says she is thankful for her mom.

But God Made Her Just For Me and Me For Her

Baby Girl is now 12 1/2 years old, and she is AMAZING! She is so intelligent and thoughtful. She is loving, kind, honest, and funny! Not only is she a tremendous help (I have been fighting Lupus since 2011), but she has hobbies I envy! She teaches herself Korean and builds complex human anatomy models and famous architectural structures. Though we have seen some very trying times, we are still a team. She depends on me, so I must continue moving forward in truth and love. God made her just for me and made me just for her.