Seventeen.

Seventeen years ago today, May 17th, my dad got out of bed, had his morning coffee and went to work. He was walking the perimeter when a co-worker noticed he didn’t look quite right. He said he didn’t feel well. She urged him to go to the nurse on duty, and so he did. She took his blood pressure and then called an ambulance. Before the ambulance could arrive, he had flat lined. She was able to bring him back once using the defibrillator. By this time, my uncle (his brother) was

there with him because he worked at the same institution. My dad was able to sit up and look at my uncle and say “something is wrong” and those were his last words.

I was at work when I got the call. “Your dad had a heart attack. You need to get to the hospital”. It never dawned on me that he wouldn’t survive. Of course I was frantic to get to the hospital. But I thought that when I got there, he would
be hooked up to a few machines and look over at me and say “hey babe” as he always did. In the emergency room, a nurse came up to me and asked who I was there to see. I told her my dad and gave her his name. The look on her face said it all. She directed me to a room full of my family members and when I walked in, there was no longer a question about the fate of the most important man in my life.

That day forever changed me.

Every heart wrenching, life altering decision I have made; every moment of bravery and leap of faith is because of that day. The day that I realized nothing is guaranteed and the entire world can be turned upside down in a matter of minutes.
Just like that, my world was shattered. Nothing would ever be the same. He was everything to me. And now he was gone. Anyone, at any time, can just be….gone.

So I started to live my life as if each day was my last. If I wasn’t happy, I would change it, no matter the cost. Every time I thought I couldn’t possibly handle any more pain or stress, I reminded myself that I already went through the
worst possible scenario and I survived, so I know I can get through anything that life throws at me. I went a bit wild. I was a tad reckless. But I don’t regret any of it because I was taking chances and living my life with spontaneity and passion. And LIFE, I was full of life. I was doing all of the things that I wanted to do. I wasn’t going to be someone who left this world unhappy. I wasn’t going to waste any time being someone I didn’t want to be. I wasn’t going to spend a minute being somewhere I didn’t want to be.

After a while, that lust for life wore off. Over the years, I have settled into routines. I have settled into relationships and I have become complacent. And I don’t like it. But there has to be a happy medium. When I was living as if it
was my last day, I was living for me and me only. And in the process, some people were hurt. Fast forward ten years and I’m living for everyone else and in that process, making myself miserable.

Where is the middle ground? Where is that good place between doing what makes ME happy and living a life of benefit to others?

I still worry that my dad left this world unfulfilled and unhappy. I fear that he wasn’t living his best life and he knew that. I wonder about his final thoughts. I’m sure there are so many things he wishes he would have done and words he would have said. He could have made his life happier, he just didn’t know that he wouldn’t have time. That’s the thing. We think we have time.

So, while I don’t want to ever disregard anyone’s feelings, I know that I need to create a life for myself and my children in which they never have to wonder if I was happy. I need to use the gifts that I have been given for good. I need to build a life that I am proud of and content with. It is possible to live every day like your last, in a healthy way. It means taking chances. It means stepping outside of your comfort zone. It means taking giant leaps of faith, not knowing where that might take you, but knowing that is where faith comes in.

Faith: Complete confidence and trust in someone or something.

I’m going to have faith in me. I’m going to make the changes I need to make so that no one ever has to wonder, “Was she happy with her life?” I don’t want that burden for anyone. When my time comes, I want there to be no question as to
whether or not I was at peace. I want to be remembered for my bravery in making the difficult decisions because it’s what was best for me and my children. My legacy will be that I took risks, I took chances and I never stopped searching for what I was after. I made the difficult decisions. I didn’t settle for anything less than I deserved. I knew that life was fragile and I didn’t waste any of my time where I didn’t belong. I loved fiercely and protected my loved ones. I found the secret to happiness and I shared
it with everyone. It’s pushing past the pain. It’s knowing that after the storm, there will be sunlight again. It’s baby steps, but steps none the less. I conquered my fears, I faced them head on. I was bold. I knew that in a moment’s time, you can lose it
all. And I didn’t go out without a fight.

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