This I Believe

Cassie - Tampa, Florida
Entered on October 28, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that every person should live their life as though it could end at any moment. This doesn’t mean that it’s okay to recklessly live everyday in the present without thought or concern for the future. More specifically, I believe that everyday we should wake up and appreciate the things that we are doing on that day, in that place, at that moment. We need to resist the urge to live our lives always believing that the “grass is always greener.” So many people put off happiness until their next raise, their next new job, or until they retire.

My father was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was 25 years old and given 6-18 months to live. My father was my hero, my confident, my friend, and my mentor. Until his cancer diagnosis, my life was rolling along on a certain path. I was working a job I didn’t like and living in a town that I wasn’t too fond of. I had spoke of making changes in my life, but none of my actions pointed toward moving on. Suddenly, my father had lung cancer. While his diagnosis was devastating, it taught me so much. During the following 2 years, I was able to have many meaningful conversations with him, I was able to leave my job and go back to school, and I was there to take care of him until the end.

One night in particular stands out in my mind. In order to truly appreciate this story, you must understand that my father was one of the most frugal men I have ever known. One weekend after his diagnosis, I came home to spend time with my parents. Only to find out that the refrigerator had broken earlier that day. In the middle of our kitchen stood two huge coolers with the entire contents of the refrigerator and freezer packed inside. Most families would have gone out to eat, but my dad was never one to spend money frivolously. Instead he decided that we would eat English muffins topped with Pizza Quick and parmesan cheese. As he explained, the Pizza Quick and the parmesan cheese were near the top of the cooler and could be grabbed quickly to minimize the danger of letting in too much warm air which could potentially spoil the remaining food.

After cooking up this gourmet meal, my parents and I sat down to eat. As I took a bite of the Pizza Quick English muffin concoction, I had to admit it was pretty horrible. I looked across the table and waited for my mom to take a bite. She took a bite and slowly chewed, finally my mom said, “This isn’t that good.” By this point my dad picked up his and took a bite and immediately declared, “This is positively delicious.” I burst out laughing and said, “Now Dad, come one. It might be edible, but positively delicious? Are you kidding? Positively delicious?” My mom joined in the laughter and within minutes my dad was laughing, too. We laughed until tears streamed down our cheeks. We kept repeating, “Positively delicious.”

Sitting at that table that night I was thankful. So often we look back and we think, “those were the days.” It is only in retrospect that we are able to appreciate what we have. My dad had cancer and he was dying, but in that moment we were happy. We were having a good time together. We were celebrating each other’s quirks and loving each other in spite of everything else going on.

I believe that we should appreciate every day….because if we spend our whole life counting down until our next vacation, our next day off, or the next weekend, we might miss the unexpected joy right in front of us.