I have always been told that “Life is short and we must embrace all of it.” For most of us, I am sure this phrase goes in one ear and out the other. It’s a tough lesson to learn, especially when we view our lives as having many, many tomorrows. I never fully appreciated what this meant until I was hit smack-dab in the face with this life lesson back when everything became clear – in 2005.
I was ten years old, and my sister was eight. We had just finished cleaning the house when my dad came home and laid down in his bedroom because he was not feeling well. This, of course, upset my sister and me, as we had JUST finished making the bed.
We did not have that much time to be upset with him since I had to quickly change for my basketball game. My dad decided to stay home, so my mother took my sister and me.
When we arrived home after the game, I decided to grab a book from my parent’s bedroom. The room was dark, as my dad was sleeping. I remember thinking how peaceful he looked. I walked into the living room and cracked open the book.
My mother and sister walked into the bedroom next. What they found when they turned on the light was my dad lying stone cold in bed, with a ghostly pale face, and blue lips. My mother started screaming his name, but he was not waking up. We watched my mother take my dad’s lifeless body, and lay it on the ground to start chest compressions and CPR. Nothing was working.
When the first responders arrived, they told my sister and me to go upstairs to our bedrooms, so we didn’t have to watch this horrific event unfolding before my eyes.
I sat in my bedroom, in the dark, for what felt like hours. A police officer finally came into my room and told us that our father had died and that he was not coming back.
For months, I had nightmares about that night. It was like a movie reel that would not stop.
It was unbearable to fathom the thought of going through life without my father by my side, but we found a way to manage. On the plus side, my mother found she was pregnant with my little brother, bringing us joy during an awful time.
Fast forward to 2007, about two years after my father passed away. My sister and I had just arrived home from school when my mom sat us both down in the living room because she needed to tell us something.
“Girls, I have cancer,” she said.
I know that I heard her, but it had to be some sort of cruel joke. How could we get through life experiencing this much pain and suffering?
Unfortunately, for my family, it was not a cruel joke, but a harsh reality. We endured two long years of my mother battling Sarcoma Cancer (Bone Cancer). Throughout those two, long years, we experienced many trips to the hospital, birthday celebrations in her hospital room, long nights praying that our mother would be okay, and too many questions from curious minds to count.
My mother lost her battle with cancer on April 4th, 2009. In just four short years, my siblings and I went from having a wonderful life with two loving parents to being parentless and lost.
Healing – A New Life
Luckily, for us, my aunt and uncle on my mom’s side took us into their home without a second thought. They gave us shelter from this awful storm that seemed to never end. We went from a family of three siblings to six siblings, since my aunt and uncle already had three children of her own.
I have found that by talking about my experiences with others and opening up about the hardships of life, it makes it easier to process and grieve. No, I will never be back to 100%, because my life was changed forever without the people who brought me into this world, but by focusing on the simple things, such as Mindfulness, Talk Therapy, and concentrating on the here and now, I have been able to regain control of my life.
From these experiences, I learned how short life can be. We never know if it might be the last time we see a loved one. So live, not as though you have many, many tomorrows, but as if each day is your last. Embrace all your days and live each to its fullest.