I believe life is short and unexpected and that I should live every day valuing life experiences and people over material things. I should live every day with passion and with nothing in my heart left unsaid at the end of the day.
When my healthy as a horse dad got pneumonia my freshman year of college, I thought, “Nobody dies of pneumonia these days; it is the 21st century, after all.” But when his pneumonia triggered Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) he was soon on a ventilator fighting for his life, and I was about to learn more about myself and life than I ever imagined possible at age 19.
My strong, independent father lay weak in a hospital bed, dependent on a ventilator to sustain his life. Two hellish weeks after the fight for his life had begun he lost his battle to ARDS, and I began a battle of my own.
Losing my dad when he was planning for the best years of his life was incomprehensible to me. He was hardworking and caring. He had so many things he hadn’t accomplished yet and so many plans for my mom and him as they prepared to grow old together. The grief I had overcame me to a point where I at times felt that it would be better to lay quiet and still with him.
I eventually started to come out of my dark, bitter hole when I started giving my time to volunteering for different nonprofits and homeless shelters. As I looked into the grateful faces of those I served, they had no idea that they were also helping me. I could feel the pain ease in my heart as I lent a helping hand or a listening ear to those who needed it.
I began to realize that from my dad’s death I could learn about my own life and grow instead of staying hollow and cold.
I do not know when my time on this earth will end. And I do not want to put off my dreams and aspirations for the months and years ahead, because they are not promised to me. I am no longer concerned with what society tells me is the picture of success. I have no desire to spend money on elaborate cars or a fancy home that I will leave behind on this earth to rot and deteriorate. I wish to live simply.
I have painted my own picture of success. I cherish the opportunity to invest in learning and life experiences. I want to explore and taste the world one country at a time and make memories with the ones I love.
I want a career that I am passionate about and look forward to at the beginning of each day—a career that is more than just a nine-to-five job but instead a way of giving back to the world and making it a little better.
Lastly, I want to go to bed every night knowing that my loved ones know exactly how much they mean to me. This is something that I cannot leave for them to assume, because life is short and unexpected.