I could lose my mother at any moment. Since I was born she has been living with a disease that could take a turn without warning and take her from us. As a child I had a hard time understanding why Mommy wasn’t able to take me to the park for the afternoon or why being in the sun for more than just a few minutes would leave her exhausted. When I was eventually old enough to understand her sickness, my confusion turned to worry and eventually into constant fear. I have lived with that fear since childhood, wondering if something will happen to her, wondering if she will make it through.
My mother was diagnosed with lupus, a disease few people have heard of and that even fewer understand. While her symptoms are now better managed and her health has improved, my constant state of worry and my desire to protect her has not diminished. Moving away to start college was made even harder by my fear of leaving her, as if something may happen if I’m not there to protect her.
Throughout all of this my mother has taught me the most important lesson of my life. Because of her I believe that every day must be lived to its fullest extent, that every opportunity should be taken and that life should be cherished, not carelessly tossed about. I have learned to live beside fear instead of within it. I have learned that while the future may be devastating, the present is worthy of celebration.
To most, life is seen as a constant and reliable foundation. Only when the possibility for life becomes unknown does it become clear that life is not promised to us. I learned at a young age that today may be all we have together, this may be my last chance to look into my mother’s eyes. The fragility of life has become clear right before my eyes-it’s unavoidable. There’s no running from the facts. My fear has to be faced head on.
Coming to this realization as a child has radically shaped the way that I live my life. I overcame my worries and left for college. Since then I have found a world of new activities, made new friends and have a vision of my professional life. I want the whole experience, I don’t ever want to look back and regret hiding from my potential.
I believe that there is life beyond fear, instead of hiding I will embrace life. If I am given this day, I have made one more step and I will find as much value in that day as I can. I’ll make the drive to see the sun set on the beach, I’ll make that call home every Sunday. My decisions will be careful and thought out, chance will be avoided, and opportunity pursued, finding every chance to reap the potential of life. I believe that every day is valuable and should not go to waste.
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