A boy's birthday wish: honoring his mom's memory

A baby survives and thrives against the odds
exp Turning Points Emmanuel Hawkins_00002001

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Story highlights

  • Emmanuel Hawkins was born at 28 weeks
  • His mother, Tara, gave birth to him while she was in a coma and brain dead
  • Two days after Emmanuel was born, his mother was taken off life support and died

With the help of his grandmother Nonnie, 11-year-old Emmanuel Hawkins expresses his feelings about how his mother died and the call to action he has made because of it. The opinions in this article are solely those of the authors.

Stone Mountain, Georgia (CNN)I often wonder what my life would be like if I had my mom. Would I have brothers and sisters? Would I still be an only child? Would I have been able to speak and express myself before now?

I was born at 28 weeks against the odds. For the first eight years of my life, I was able to speak only 10 words and I didn't have any friends. But my grandma Nonnie told me never to give up and worked with me around the clock. Now at 11, I can speak and express myself. I'm just working on the pronunciation of my words.
My big day is coming up! March 16, 2004, was the day I came into this world, which for me and grandma is bittersweet. That was the last day I got to hang out with my mom.
    Emmanuel Hawkins weighed less than 3 pounds when he was born in 2004.
    My mom, Tara, was hurt very badly by someone she was trying to help on November 22, 2003. She was only 12 weeks pregnant with me. Doctors told my grandma that my mom and I wouldn't make it. They said that my mom was in a coma and brain dead and that it was impossible for me to grow inside of her. The doctors couldn't find any research proving a baby could survive under all those conditions.
    Doctors didn't know God had his own plans for my life. My grandma told me that when my mom was seven weeks pregnant, God told them I would be a little boy and they should name me Emmanuel, which means "God is with us."
    Then God showed the world that nothing is impossible. He gave my mom the power to deliver me without help from any medical staff after lying in the hospital for 115 days. As you could imagine, every witness was speechless.
    Emmanuel's mother, Tara, was an 18-year-old college freshman.
    I know it sounds strange, but I can still feel Mom's presence and hear her voice telling me to be strong; that God had special plans for me and grandma needed me and couldn't make it without me. You see, my mom was her only child.
    I learned the truth about what happened to my mom just after my 10th birthday. My grandma got me the coolest gift ever: my dog Sir Love. Then she shared with me that my mom was with a group of teens when she was hurt. One boy was down on his luck. He was homeless and it was his birthday. My mom gave him $10 to help him, but then an argument broke out after he told lies about her. He violently attacked my mom, and she was rushed to the hospital.
    Emmanuel's grandmother Nonnie has raised her grandson since birth.
    I was numb. I couldn't say anything for a few minutes. I could hear my grandma talking, but all I could think was, "I don't have a mom because of a bully?" The only thing I remember saying was, "Are you kidding me?"
    My grandma went on to tell me that I must use my mom's story as a steppingstone and not a stumbling block. I remember I had tears running down my face. I asked sadly, "What can we do so that no one else has to die?"
    She said we can educate kids that bullying not only hurts, it can kill. Something went through me. It was like a surge of power, and I said, "I can be a superhero called Super Love Boy who saves kids around the world from bullies!"
    Emmanuel stars as Super Love Boy in his comic book, "Bully Me? No Way! I Got the Power."
    That's how my comic book came to life, which is free to everyone on bullymenoway.com. I know I can't have my mom for my birthday, but would you please stand with me and spread the word? Create a video with you saying, "Bully me? No way! I've got the power." Then upload it and use the hashtag #bullymenoway. If I could get 1 million people to do that, it would be the best birthday gift ever.
    Nothing can bring my mom back, but at least I can honor her memory by helping others. God bless!