This I Believe

Ashley - Newport News, Virginia
Entered on April 16, 2007

I believe in living each day to the fullest and not taking life for granted. This belief came about three years ago when I went through a devastating life change.

Three years ago my mother suddenly passed away at the young age of 43. I started wondering why my friends had both parents, and I was on my own. I desperately searched for help. I looked to friends, through readings, through support groups, and through therapy…but nothing seemed to work. I felt alone, like I was suffering alone, and nobody knew how I felt or how to help me out of my state of depression. I went doctors for help, that didn’t work. I tried a support group with other teenagers, that didn’t work. Finally I tried therapy, but that didn’t work either.

The best thing that happened to me was when I attended the camp hosted by the support group. The group hosts a yearly camp for kids who are also grieving the loss of a loved one. A year and a half after my mother’s death I found myself at this camp with an eleven year old “little buddy” of my own. Throughout the weekend I tried to help her cope with her grandfather’s death and let her know that she was not alone. After camp I called her, sent her pictures from camp and holiday greeting cards. I have made it an annual ritual since then to attend this camp to help more kids realize that they are normal, and that they do not have to suffer alone.

My mom lived each day to the fullest, which is exactly what I am now trying to do. My memories are slowly washing away, but I can never forget how much she did for me and my younger brother. She was a single mom, who worked very hard, and tried to give us the best life possible. Who would have known that we would have to say goodbye so early and that I would have to act as a second mom for my brother.

Now, three years since her death, I believe that suffering can be good. From my suffering I learned how precious life is. I learned how to make decisions on my own, and how to become more domestic around the house. Without this loss in my life I would not have learned these life lessons at such an early age.

So I guess I believe in a lot of things. I believe in the power of helping others, and I believe that suffering only makes you stronger. But most importantly, I believe in living each day to the fullest as if it was your last and to not take life for granted.