“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”

Picture this, it’s July 20, 2007, my mom, dad, 4 younger siblings and I pull up to the Days Inn hotel in Harrisonburg, VA. After a 5 hour drive from Chester, PA I’m ready to get away from my brothers and sisters (ages 3, 4, 5 and 10. Yes, my parents were busy) they’re driving me crazy! My dad and I walk up to the hotel receptionist and I notice that my dad is in pain, barely able to speak to the lady behind the desk, so I assist him as any good daughter would. 

He’s never really sick, but I don’t think anything of it, I give the lady his information and read off his confirmation number as he slouches over on the desk trying to regain his balance. We get in the room, settle down and the fussing and obnoxiousness begins. My brothers and sisters are unusually rowdy and I’m just not in the mood. As they hop around the room chasing each other around I think of a way to talk my mom into letting me stay with my friends in a different hotel.

Though my siblings are annoying me, I am super excited for tomorrow. It’s the day I begin my missionary trip which includes a 3 week project in Trinidad and Tobago. I mean, what 17 year old wouldn’t be psyched for this once in a lifetime opportunity? So, my plan works! I talk my mom into dropping me off at my friend’s hotel. Before I rush out the door I look back and I see my dad lying down half asleep, my little brother is sitting behind him attempting to play peek-a-boo and my other three siblings are roaming around. I walk over to my dad, give him a kiss and whisper “I love you.” The next morning I wake up at my friend’s hotel, words can’t express my anticipation. As we prepare for our departure (two of my good friends were also going on the trip) my friend’s mom, Mrs. Joan, get’s a phone call from my mom.

Next, I hear Mrs. Joan scream. I brace myself for the worst. She tells me that my dad died in our hotel room. I can’t believe it. My dad, my superman, the breadwinner of our family passed away unexpectedly in front of my mom and younger siblings and the worst part about it… I wasn’t there because I just wanted to get away from my “annoying” siblings and be with my friends.

I beat myself up for a long time about my actions that night amongst a few other things. I also regretted not showing my dad how much I appreciated and loved him while he was alive.

This experience taught me three things…

1. Cherish the moments with the ones you love

2. Appreciate your loved ones while they’re here

3. Life is too short to…

  • Hold grudges
  • Live in fear
  • Sleep on your dreams and goals

Have you ever had a life-changing experience that made you appreciate the small things in life? How has your experience changed your perspective on life?

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  • Thank you for reading Carly. I really appreciate your comment!

  • Carly

    Thank you for opening up and sharing your story… this really hit my heart hard. It seems like you learned the greatest lessons out of the greatest loss.

  • Hey Ping,

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss! Girl, it’s crazy right? No matter how much time goes by it’s still fresh. I beat myself up for so long and then realized that “what’s done is done.” He wouldn’t want me to walk around moping. I guess it’s our blessing in disguise. After such an experience, we now have the chance to really appreciate the people around us! 🙂

  • Hi Terri,
    I literally teared up as I read this. I had a very similar experience with my dad and to this day, even though it’s been a little over 2 years, it stills kills me to think about all the things I would have done differently. Thank you so much for sharing this.