While driving home from the hospital with my Father’s hand in mine, I realized I was never going to be that naive, small-town girl ever again.
Growing up in a safe and welcoming community, I had never faced many challenges. My biggest concerns were what my Mom had packed me for lunch or if I was going to start in the next lacrosse game. I spent most of my time with my friends, assuming my family would always be there for me.
That all changed during Freshman year. I thought it was strange that the house was empty. Eventually, I heard my Mom walk through the front door asking me to come downstairs. Sitting at the kitchen table, I listened to her words, “I don’t want you to worry…” the rest was a blur. Earlier that morning, my Dad had fallen into her arms, seizing. The doctor said it was a brain tumor.
Until that night, I never thought anything awful would ever happen to someone in my family. It was the kind of thing that happened on TV or to other families. I was distraught, and thought to myself, when was the last time I checked in with Dad? I knew he wasn’t feeling well. I should have walked the dog with him when he asked. Was I going to get the chance again?
Those first days visiting him in the hospital were tough, but I knew I had to be there for him and my family. I went from being the “baby sister” to the lighthearted extra set of hands that my family needed. Whether it was trying to keep the mood light in the waiting room by telling funny stories with my two older brothers about my crazy aunts or sitting at my Dad’s bedside holding his hand, I tried each day to bring a smile to everyone’s face. As my mother spent hours at the hospital, I found myself becoming more self-sufficient and taking a more active role at home: doing laundry, making dinner, and helping to keep the house organized became a part of my daily routine.
Before my Dad’s condition, I had taken my family for granted, but I now realize how crucial it is to cherish every moment with the people you love. Upon his release and during his recovery, walking our dog, Lucy, was the only physical therapy he could do. I stopped passing up his offers to join him and made these walks a weekly routine, from this my Dad quickly became my best friend. I made sure to hold his hand when needed and even laughed at his corny jokes.
Time doesn’t stop for anyone, so I have learned to try to enjoy each day – even the bad ones. I will never forget those long months during my Freshman year. I was a different person before I had a reality check, and I never want to go back. In a way I am grateful for what happened, for I see the world differently and now know to cherish every moment I have with loved ones.