This I Believe

Caitlin - Dobbs Ferry, New York
Entered on April 21, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: death, gratitude
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Let People Know How Much They Mean to You Before It’s Too Late

I grew up in a close loving family with practically no worries in the world. I went through the first twenty years of my life never truly appreciating the people around me. Everyone just seemed like they would always be there.

My first wake up call took place in the summer of 2003; a close friend of mine died at the age of 23 from ovarian cancer. The only thing I could think was “Why?” Why did this have to happen to her? I have always heard of people being diagnosed with cancer and people losing their battle, however, I felt as though it would never happen to anyone I knew.

Less than a year later, my aunt was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor and was almost immediately put into a fatal coma. This was probably the most difficult thing I have ever been through. I was unable to communicate to her how much I loved her and how much I admired and looked up to her. After her death, I decided that I had to change my life drastically. I made a vow that I would never let someone leave my life without them knowing how much I loved and cared about them.

During the summer of 2005 my grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer. I knew I wouldn’t make the same mistakes I had in the past. I spent as much time as possible with my grandmother. I enjoyed every moment I shared with her, whether it be taking her to receive her chemotherapy or just hanging out watching TV. I repeatedly made the effort to let her know how much she meant to me. She was the one that kept this family together and I made sure she knew it.

Losing someone you love is one the most difficult things I have been through in my life, but feeling as though I let them leave this world without them knowing how much I loved them is far worse. Now my life is dedicated to letting the people in my life know how much they mean to me. I never let a day go by without taking a moment to realize how lucky I am to have such great people around me and I make sure that they know how much they are appreciated.