This I Believe

Ashley - Grandville, Michigan
Entered on September 26, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

This I Believe…

I believe that in the face of adversity, strength will always be found in the least expected places. I did not always know this fact about strength; in fact it took a rather hard and personal lesson to learn. In my freshman year of college my mom was diagnosed with stage four Melanoma, a terminal illness that gave her only a ten percent chance of being alive in eight months. I felt like my world was crumbling and even worse, I was not sure why. I felt completely unprepared to face the road ahead. So I did the only thing I could think to do; I kept going to school, and slowly learned how to balance being two different people.

One side of me was the girl that was a normal college student. I went to football games, spent late nights studying in the library, and hung out with friends. The other half of me was the girl that drove her mom to Detroit for chemo treatments, the girl who was home two to three times a week at least to hang out with a mom who needed her oldest child to be an example of strength for her younger brother and sister. Worst of all, I was not sure how I was going to do this.

I had somehow figured out how to make it through the day on my own, but I guess I had never considered myself an overly strong person. However I managed my role with what I like to think of as quiet grace. Most people (besides relatives and close friends) would have never guessed the emotional turmoil that plagued my everyday. While I went to school with a smile on my face, my mom became sicker and sicker with each passing month. In the summer before my junior year of college, my mom had run out of options as far as chemo and radiation. My hope began to waver and with it my strength. But my mom’s strength never faltered. As her body slowly began to perform less and less of its day-to-day functions, her strength remained ever present, especially when it came to her faith and her love for her family. There was not a single day that went by where I did not acquire some strength from my mom. And while I would like to think that this strength has always been within me, I am not sure I would have found it without my mom.

On March 20, 2007 my mom passed away. I cannot explain to anyone how deeply this affected me. It was surreal, like a dream, no a nightmare. I felt that I had not only lost my mom, but lost my sense of strength as well. But as days, weeks, and months went on,I realized that the world keeps spinning and life doesn’t stop. I learned that this time I had to stand on my own and be strong and that’s just what I did. I finished up my semester with good grades and continued to be involved in church. I still hold a strong belief in life and human potential and I have a renewed confidence that I can do anything, be anything, go through anything and come out intact. And I learned this all from my dying mother.