By Katelyn Sirp, Beta Class
As I travel through my college journey, I see that there are so many things being experienced for the first time: living on your own, supporting yourself, juggling an education with a part-/full-time job, pulling an all-nighter, and so much more. As young adults and young professionals, we tend to see the world with a certain opportunistic and optimistic point of view. We can easily get set into a routine and feel comfortable with our current situation, mainly because the majority of us haven’t truly begun to face the harsh realities of the real world. Earlier this month, I experienced one of these harsh realities.
On March 4th, I lost a childhood friend to Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. What had made it so hard was that her battle did not last long? She spent all summer trying to diagnose the source of her abdominal pain and didn’t have a confirmation until late September, and at that time, she was Stage 3. By this time, cancer had spread from the reproductive organs to the rest of her abdomen. There were ups and downs and in October, as I was close to crossing into Zeta, she had an episode, and we almost lost her. Her kidneys had completely shut down, and if her mother had not gotten home on time, then she would not have made it. She ended up being either in hospitals or rehab homes until after Christmas.
Her name was Sarah. She and I grew up next door to each other. She was more of a sister than a friend to me. When she came back home, it was obvious that her condition worsened. On March 4th I was getting ready to go to volunteer at my local animal shelter when a feeling came over me that made me stop what I was doing and stare at myself in the mirror.
All I could think was, “She just died.”
When I walked outside minutes later, I saw some of her family outside and I could hear her sister-in-law crying. I considered getting in my car, going to the shelter, and ignoring the situation. I honestly wanted to, but I forced myself to walk over and mourn with her family. I let my notified my family and then I turned to my Brothers.
Immediately I had Brothers letting me know that they would keep her family in their thoughts and prayers and that if I needed anything, to just ask. In a moment when all the stability in my life was suddenly crushed by the reality that at any moment I could lose it all, my Brothers came along and provided that stability by just saying that they were there for me. At our next chapter just days after, the first thing my Big asked me was how I was doing. After Sarah’s passing she advised me to take it easy over Spring Break and to take the time to mourn her properly and even though she stepped back, I still knew that she and the rest of my Brothers were going to be there for me if I needed them.
I know that this event won’t be the last of its kind in my life, but it was the first real event of my adult life that became a wakeup call. Death changes people. When it touches someone’s life in any way it leaves a mark. I’m no longer in a little bubble of naivety, thinking that it’s okay to push things until later. “Oh, I’ll travel later”, “I’ll apply for that promotion later”, “I’ll call my Grandma later”.
Death is something no one wants to experience, but I feel that it is important to reflect on it. Death puts life into perspective. When my stability was shattered, I started to see things differently. My perspective on life was changed because, not to be cliché, but life is short. Use something like death to prioritize what is really important and that taking chances is okay. Go see Rome. Go for that promotion. Talk to that person. Pick up the phone! It is up to us to take life experiences and use them to learn from, because everything happens for a reason and we either learn from it or we willingly ignore it.
Ultimately, we’re the ones who will create our own path.