Girl Power: Resilient Love 11/14/13
November 14, 2013
JíAnna Higgsí voice can silence a crowd. Thatís exactly what she did the first time I met her at a football game.
The game was in a lightning delay, and next thing you knew, all you could hear were the angelic notes of "Ave Maria."
"She just does it!" says her cheer coach Shona Lewis. "I mean, if she canít nail it the first time she will try it over and over and over again until she gets it. She doesnít ever give up on anything. She brings me to tears when I hear her sing. Itís amazing."
"At a very young age I was listening to Mozart and Bach and all kinds of stuff," J'Anna said with a laugh. "Like, Elton John and the Beatles and all this stuff. I never actually new I could sing until the 8th grade!"
But this is just one of her gifts. JíAnna is also a phenomenal athlete: sheís been a varsity cheerleader since she was a freshman, and also competes on the gymnastics team.
"I think itís because I donít like facing whatís at home, or whatís at Ďhome,'" she said. "It just pulls me away from things that have happened and, yeah, just being really busy. It just keeps my mind away from everything."
And this is where her story really begins.
Her mother, Diana, had JíAnna as a teenager and while they have always been close, their relationship has been tainted by an outside enemy.
"Most of my life she was on drugs and she was an addict to meth and I donít know what else," J'Anna said, "and I would yell at her and yell and her and it wouldnít work! So thatís why my sister and I gave up and said we have to live with it. There is no choice."
The girls lived in a home where strangers entered and exited all the time. They just saw them as their motherís friends.
"I lived in a drug house," she said. "I lived in a crack house."
Her freshman year of high school, JíAnna finally had hope for her motherís future. Diana got pregnant with a little boy.
"He was supposed to change our lives," J'Anna said through tears. "He was supposed to be the thing that made my mom stop doing drugs."
But Diana lost the baby.
For JíAnna, it was an eye-opener and one of many broken promises.
"I picked him up and I held him and he was the most beautifullest thing ever," she said through sobs. "I think another reason why he passed away too was her drug use during the pregnancy: her not making the right choices. She had always told me, ĎJíAnna, Iím never going to get caught. I donít think the cops will ever catch us.í"
But in August of last year, the biggest promise Diana made to her daughter ended up getting broken when she was arrested for transportation and possession of drugs landing her behind bars and away from her children for six and a half years.
"I was so upset that it actually happened!" J'Anna exclaimed. "I believed in my mom that she would never get caught. I believed in that. And then, after it actually happened and reality hit and all these emotions were rushing...but through it all I had my cheer squad and Coach B, and my choir and Mrs. Riley. They were all there for support and it helped a lot."
Despite the challenges at home, JíAnna never lost sight of her future. She made sure her homework was done on time and that she made to it all her practices and events for her extra-curricular activities.
"She makes no excuses," said OHS Choir Director Shari Riley. "Sheís an example to other students who might want to have an excuse for something, and that puts her in a leadership capacity."
ď"ome of my teachers would try to go easy on me and I would say, ĎNo! Donít do that. I donít think itís going to help me progress," J'Anna shared.
Despite the heartaches and challenging times, J'Anna has never lost love or faith in her mother. And now, she sees the arrest as a blessing, putting her mother on the path to being the best person she can.
"She might seem like the bad guy but sheís really not," J'Anna insists. "She said, 'This is only a detour in my life and this is going to help me and this is going to help my children just so I can find my place so I can get back to them.' I think this needed to happen. This needed to happen so that she would be better. She is my main inspiration."