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Strength in Family and Small Moments

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“Resilience”, is a word cultivated on the basis of persevering through a journey of life pursuits, no matter the obstacles that we face. A word that up until last fall I never saw in myself. Throughout my childhood, I witnessed my father demonstrate the power of resilience through simple gestures of compassion, perseverance, and courage. It wasn’t until last year, when he bravely battled brain cancer, that the lessons he taught me came into focus and helped me endure the most challenging period of my life.

Although my father taught me the value of family and community, I only truly understood its meaning October 8th of last year. At 2:00 a.m., I was shaken awake from my home and rushed outside with only the clothes on my back. While I was supposed to be studying for IB classes and preparing for the PSAT, I was running for my life from a wildfire. Disoriented and confused, I shifted my focus to my new, unfamiliar reality. Later, as I sifted through the rubble of my home to find relics of my former life, I recalled my father reminding me that small moment’s matter, and I should cherish every one. The realization that my family will always guide and support me allows me to appreciate the strength of their unwavering presence.

We spent the next months jumping from place to place, relying upon the kindness of our community for shelter, food, and necessities. We finally settled last spring, but unfortunately, life did not return to normal. Although I worked diligently to manage my rigorous junior year schedule, my father’s cancer was always on my mind. The tumor that festered in his brain required hospitalization more than fifty miles away; my mother was gone for days at a time and left me and my four siblings to care for ourselves. To help her, I found a job working twenty hours a week, watched over my three younger siblings, and tried to keep up with my classes while attempting to maintain my sanity.

When growing up in a family of seven, the phrase “to live without” was frequently used and directed towards the materialistic parts of our lives. Only now, when my dad is no longer here to guide me, does his lesson on the importance of walking through life like every day is your last resonate with me, allowing me to be brave in the face of harsh realities. My commitment to persevere towards any goal, even in the midst of adversity, is the greatest weapon I may yield, the deepest power I can hold, and the meaning of true bravery. Now a new word defines me: intrepid. Leaving home and being the first in my family to attend a four-year college requires courage and perseverance. While achieving my goal of becoming a pediatrician may be a long and arduous road, my father’s lessons will guide me on my journey admirably.

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