This I Believe

Aviva - Manchester, New Hampshire
Entered on November 19, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: illness
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This I Believe

When I was an adolescent, I never realized that my life was so perfect. I had a family who loved and supported me in every possible way, we were financially stable, and most importantly, we were all healthy. Good health and a loving family is something that should be appreciated everyday. I believe that people do not open their eyes wide enough to clearly see this. They do not appreciate the “Elijah moments,” as my mother calls it (moments of intense awareness and appreciation of one’s surroundings). I know I was at fault; I never stepped back to realize how lucky I was. I was an adolescent who blamed my parents for everything, refusing to spend even a few extra moments in the evening chatting with them. Questions about my life were completely unacceptable. All that abruptly changed following my high school graduation.

One night, after fifteen of my closest friends came over to my house for our weekly “movie night,” my mother decided to go out for a run, one of the only times she did so without me. I wanted to run with her too, but I realized that I could not do that and also have enough to time to “make myself beautiful” before my friends arrived. About an hour and a half into the movie, “Bruce Almighty,” (I’ll never forget that), the phone rang. Forced to stop the show, I answered it with a very annoyed, “Hello?” “This is the EMS,” the voice declared, “your mother fell, we found her on the side of the road.” These words did not sink into my head; my heart seemed to fall out of my chest, hitting the ground with a huge thump. “What happened? Did a car hit her? Is she OK?” The only thing the EMS told me to do was to wait for my father to come home. “Wait?” I did not want to wait! After calling my father five times, I reached finally him, while he was shopping at Home Depot, and my boyfriend quickly took me to the hospital, where my dad met us. I remember the sickening smell and the taste in my mouth, as I saw my mother lying on bed, forcing me to sprint to the bathroom. What was happening to my life? Or, more importantly, why was this happening to my family? We had never done anything wrong.

Later that night, a lung x-ray confirmed that my mother had cancer. The healthiest woman I knew had cancer. Why? That was the question that echoed in my head. The popular response is that life is just not fair. However, as random and unpredictable a cancer has proven to be, it has helped our family and our friends to recognize how fragile life is and how we all need to make the best of it. Everything in life happens for a reason and whether we accept it or not, we must try to live life to our fullest potential. I know there is a reason for this terrible burden to have befallen on my mother and my family; I just have just not yet discovered the answer. One explanation could be the need for my mother to explain her “Elijah moments” to us.

My mother does not appear unwell. She volunteers for the American Cancer Society and the local art museum and is always available when I need her help. She has made me a stronger, more resilient person, and more appreciative of my life. Everyday that I talk to her, I learn something new. She has shown that cancer does not always have to be debilitating and that the diagnosis of cancer can also have a positive affect on both family and friends. My mother fully believes in the old adage, “when someone throws you a lemon, make lemonade.” Indeed, in the last couple years my mother has become my best friend; she has taught me how important life and family is. I am now able to take a step back and to appreciate the “Elijah moments” that she has always described. I try to live everyday to the fullest because I do not know what the next day holds. I constantly stare at the leaves changing and the rain falling, and think, that despite everything, I have it all.