June 24th, 2015, an event occurred that changed my life forever. Being just 15 years of age, I was still a child. This specific event was extremely hard to overcome for everyone in my family, especially me. April 20th, 2015 I was having a normal day. A normal day until my phone rang in the middle of training. I checked my phone to see a text from my mom telling me to call her as soon as possible. I got some pretty big news that made my whole heart ache. My dad, who had been struggling with a large cough recently had been rushed to the hospital. Instead of swabbing his throat for traces of strep or prescribing him a couple cough drops, my family received the news that was heartbreaking. The cough was caused by a large cancerous tumor that had been growing since he was a little boy. Tears became an everyday thing for us after hearing this.
The usual hype for summer was non-existent within me. The realization hit me when my friends would try to cheer me up by trying to get me to go out to the movies and do “fun” stuff and I would not hesitate to turn them down for a long night on a hospital couch. I spent every day and every night for a month and a half beside his hospital bed, sneaking my dad his favorite candy behind the doctor’s backs, and holding my mom’s hand. The hand holding became hand squeezing as the doctor’s came in early Saturday morning to tell us his heart had stopped the night before. The chemotherapy was not working. They advised us to say our goodbyes to the strongest man we had ever known. We went in there and squeezed his hand as they unplugged the machine that had become my dad’s heart. June 24th, 2015, I lost my best friend.
My focus turned to ignoring those trying to help me. I pushed everyone away and I became distant in faith and in my family. I was so alone and I desperately needed help. So I prayed. I began to remember all the good times my Dad and I had versus the month and a half I spent with him in the hospital. I remembered all the “jam sessions” we would have before my games and all the times we would steal the Rolos from the bowl while mom was making Christmas candy. I began to smile when I thought about him instead of crying. I began to dedicate all of my achievements to him and my life was slowly but surely getting back on track. God showered my family with blessings, one of which was a perfect baby boy belonging to my oldest sister, Kristen. He was named after my father and looked just like him with his bright smile. This was the final push I needed, and I had God to thank for that.
I encountered this at such a young age, it forced me to grow up. It forced me to push aside the normal teenage things to do and focus on my family and my schoolwork. It forced me to be an amazing friend, sister, and daughter. It forced me to cherish the people I love most because they can be taken from you in the blink of an eye. I transitioned into an adult at the age of fifteen which seems far too early. A terrible tragedy, a free pass for me to give up, motivated me to become a better me. Today, I’m still climbing, trying to overcome this mountain that was placed in front of me at such a young age. But, through the process, I became a stronger Christian, a better student, a better player, and a very strong adult.