By Brandi Waits, GSN Development Director
I was 18 years old. It was my first year in college and my first year of experiencing the freedom of being on my own living outside of my parents home. I had a taste of freedom that I had never experienced before and I had dreams and hopes of a great and grand future that I could create for myself.
But. Life had very different plans for me. Plans that at the time were the toughest plans I thought I would ever face – never realizing it was charting the course for life long search for deeper meaning, purpose and transformation.
I received the call one afternoon that my father had been taken to the hospital for testing. My father and I spoke on the telephone daily and he had not mentioned anything about not feeling well. Alas, my mother and I jumped in the car and made the four hour drive home. Upon our arrival at the hospital and just before my father was being taken in for his test – I got to see him. My father had lost approximately 50 lbs in the three month period since our last gathering.
I knew in my heart of all hearts that the news couldn’t be good. There was something wrong with him. I was terrified of what the test results would reveal to us. The doctors called us in to share the diagnosis of cancer. They also shared with us that my father had three to six months to live.
My dad was and had always been the strongest male presence and supporter in my life. I loved him to the ends of the earth and often shared with him as a little girl that if anything ever happened to him – I would likely have to be buried with him. My father spent one month in the hospital before asking his family to take him home. He simply wanted to be at home surrounded by friends and family to live out the remaining days of his life. I spent every waking moment with him from diagnosis to death. The hospital would let me in before visitor hours and would kick me out after visiting hours were over. My father handled death like a true human and a true champion when the end finally came. Hospice was present during our transition. My father battled with his fear of dying and then.. one day… he accepted that death was coming. The energy, the love and the peace that we felt until the day he passed was a feeling that I don’t even have words to describe – it was a feeling. My father died three months and one day after diagnosis.
I learned strength and courage from my beloved father.
Exactly 10 years later, I was 28, I would receive a call that my beloved mother had died during the night. My mother was my biggest fan in life. My mother had a true free spirit that was often tainted with fear of the big world in her own journey. But, what she did for me was amazing – she taught me and showed me that I could have anything and be anything that I dreamed of. My mother gave me the ability to dream and to dream big. In an instant – she was gone.
My world turned many shades of gray after becoming a child without parents. But, the lessons that each of their lives and presence taught me was so profound and life changing.
After their passing, I realized how precious and how fleeting life is. I realize that one can be here today and gone tomorrow. I forgave a bit faster, I loved a lot deeper, and I let go of a hell of a lot more – this is where the transformation occurred for me.
The transformation also occurred for me in the way I spend my remaining days on earth. Going after my dreams! Living minimal with plans to have experiences instead of things.
In 2012 – I sold most of my earthly possessions (including my car) to get on a plane with my backpack and see the world. I took a bit of my mothers ashes with me on this journey to honor her beautiful presence, spirit and influence in my life.
I want to leave the world a better place than I found it. I want to live a life filled with purpose. ~ ALL OF THIS CAME FROM THE PASSING OF THESE TWO BEAUTIFUL SOULS THAT I WAS BLESSED TO CALL MOM AND DAD FOR 18 AND 28 YEARS!