Meet Paige Casagrande
Intro Content for Student.
Most kids would love growing up with two bedrooms. For the most part, I did love it. Two rooms, two birthdays, two of all the best holidays; seems like anything any kid could ever want. It was confusing sometimes, when I would see my friends walking home from school with both parents, where they all lived in the same house. I’d ask my dad about it, and he’d always dance around the question and distract me with a new toy or my favorite snacks. Mom would just turn up the car stereo, or pretend she didn’t hear. The fact that my parents were divorced never really bothered me, considering it had been that way since I was three months old. It was losing a part of that reality, and not knowing why for so many years, that was truly difficult.
Throughout my childhood, my mother was always struggling. Other than a temporary job at a paint factory, my step dad never worked, and she did her best to support me, my younger brother and my step dad. Styling hair was tedious and physically taxing, especially considering the hours she put in. I remember late nights with her at the salon, sitting in the waiting room and watching the sky fade from baby blue to amber to twilight. My favorite pastime was counting the stars as they popped into the night.
It wasn’t hard for me to tell my mom was always tired and in pain. She was usually irritable, and was always sleeping whenever she was home. Her doctor prescribed her opioids as a solution to her suffering. With my step dad stealing her pills, and the doctor slowly trying to get her off of them, it wasn’t long before she became addicted to hard drugs.
Of course, as an eight year old I wasn’t aware of all this. All I remember was getting picked up from her house—the last of eleven I’d lived in with her—and never coming back. I remember asking when I’d be able to go see her and my brother again, and my dad never giving me a straight answer. I remember hearing my mom calling for me, but she was never really there. My dad didn’t explain to me that she was addicted to hard drugs, no eight year old needed to hear that or would be able to understand that. As a kid and not knowing the details of the situation, I automatically assumed the worst, that her and my brother were dead and no one was telling me.
Over time, however, I learned this wasn’t the case. Within a year or two, my brother moved in with my aunt and I was able to see him from time to time. My dad explained what was really going on once I was about twelve. It hurt to know that she was in that state, and most likely would never get out of it. However, the anger I harbored towards my dad and many other family members started to fade away. Knowing the truth, I was able to slowly move on from all the hate, anger, and sadness I carried for the past four years.
In middle school, I began channeling my feelings through writing. I’d always enjoyed writing, however, middle school is where I truly began to indulge in the hobby. I progressed from short stories to plays to novels, and I plan on continuing with this well into my future. Living solely with my dad, we finally moved into a permanent house and I no longer had to transfer schools every year. I made friends at my new middle school, friends that I’m still close with to this day. Over time I grew a love of theater, where I became close with so many talented and loving people that helped me succeed.
Today, I focus on things that will impact my future. I graduated high school early in December of 2020 with a 4.2 core GPA, and am currently working full time in order to save up money for college. Occasionally, I do miss my mother. I miss gardening with her in one of our old houses or making hot chocolate together in the wintertime. While those memories are cherished, they are distant, simply another page that will blend into my life story.