Bed, Bath, and Beyond order done. Carry-on bag packed. Laptop and phone charged. Excited Michigan freshman sitting on the plane. Everything was all ready to go and all right except that one thing was missing… My father…
I had my mom, my nana, and my popi sitting beside me on the plane, but still something did not feel right. I was missing my best friend. I shared my last words with that best friend on a warm, Friday night in August in the summer leading up to my junior year. This is and was a year that many people view as the hardest stretch of a high school student’s life. Emotions run high during this year in the best of circumstances, but in light of my loss, my sensitivity and intensity grew.
My 45-year old healthy, athletic, intelligent, generous, diligent, and family centered dad was suddenly taken away from us after he suffered a massive stroke. My dad had battled with severe migraines for years, but nothing had come of these headaches until that Friday night. That Friday night that I was woken up by my mom telling me that they were taking my dad, my one and only dad, to the hospital because he was not responding. That would be the last time I would ever see any sense of life or movement radiate from my bighearted father. That guy who despite his endless hours of work in the city, came to every one of my brother’s and my games on the weekends to take pictures for the entire team. That guy who I spent every night with watching old TV shows and movies. That guy who helped me write every paper throughout high school except for the one paper that mattered the most, The Common Application that would serve as a gateway to my future. Ironically that “paper” would be written entirely without him and entirely about him.
For those of you (which is most of you) that did not know my father, he was the humblest and hardest working person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I would not be where I am today without the help of my dad. Although losing at parent at such a young age is something that I would never wish upon anyone, I have been able to discover what is most important in life and develop the ability to put things into perspective as well as approach solving problems independently. Though at the time it happened, I could hardly make sense of the situation, in retrospect, I see the ways in which I have grown from his passing.
In a time where our generation is constantly obsessed with social media and our image, I have gained an insight into what really matters. No, I am not perfect, and yes, I still care very much about how I look on Instagram and Facebook, but I have really learned the importance of living in the moment rather than living in the moment to get that one picture to show everyone not with you how you are having an amazing time. Next time you find yourself doing this, take a step back and look around at the amazing friends and family you are with, because there will come a time, although hard to understand, that these people will no longer be surrounding you. There is not one day that passes that I do not think about my dad and all the things we used to do together, and with that, I really understand what it means to put one’s life into perspective. I am not writing this article for people to give me sympathy, but for people in the same position as me, those with divorced parents, or maybe no parents, or otherwise just suffering a loss of any kind to realize the lessons we have learned from our own experiences, and to remember how important it is to live life to the fullest and live life with perspective. If you see a friend lacking that perspective then help them, because the greatest gift in life is to help those around us even when they are not outwardly looking for that assistance.
So as I sat in my plane seat, awaiting my arrival at the University of Michigan campus, I thought of one person: my dad. Although I longed for his company and for us to share the exciting experience of moving into my freshman dorm, I really believed he was looking down on me, smiling as always, thinking of how proud he was of me and how proud he will be of me in the future. Because every ounce of dedication and care that I have for my work, friends, and family all are based on values that he instilled in me, in the first sixteen years of my life.