“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other wings.” ~Johann Wolfang von Goethe
In 2010 two major life events marked my life forever: my father lost his battle with melanoma and I become a mother.
Both events came unexpectedly. My father was only fifty-six years old and had never been sick for one day of his entire life. Also, I had other plans at the time, focusing heavily on my career, so I did not want to have a baby just yet.
But life is what actually happens to us while we are making all those plans. I remember being six months pregnant at my dad’s funeral, and my baby did not move at all throughout the entire day. It’s like she wanted to stay quiet so that she would allow me to focus on my grief.
In 2010 I lost someone I loved and then I gained someone else. Here I am now, four years later, enjoying my life as a mother, simply adoring my daughter and being very clear about all the things I want her to know. And still, so desperately, missing my father.
This is my list. I could add another 100 things, of course, but I learned to keep things simple. And really meaningful. So here it is:
1. Cherish every moment you spend with your loved ones, and don’t take them for granted.
To say “I’m sorry” or “I love you” to a picture on a grave is the most painful experience ever. Be careful to not get there.
2. Sometimes, your only available transportation will be a giant leap of faith.
Take a deep breath and take that leap.
3. Other times you’ll be afraid of failure.
It’s okay, we all are. Just go for it. You’ll either succeed or you won’t. Either way, you’ll not live with the regret of never trying.
4. Do more of those things you enjoy doing.
Explore as many activities as you can. Finding your passion is not a myth, but it is surely not as easy as it sounds, so be open and curious. Experiment. Learn.
5. Embrace challenges.
And don’t be afraid of change. Look for opportunities all around you.
7. What you see in the movies about love is not all the truth.
Love is not only about passion and romance. It is also about doing the dishes together after a Christmas family dinner and then falling asleep exhausted in each other’s arms.
8. Nobody is perfect.
So don’t look for the perfect person. Just look for the flawed one who still makes your heart sing.
9. Be present.
Go only to those events or meetings you actually want to attend. Saying no will not hurt other as much as you’d think. They will get over it. What you can’t do is recover a lost moment of time.
10. Don’t settle.
If you are not satisfied with one result, take action, go deeper, or try a new approach. Don’t do anything only because “you have to” or because others expect that of you.
You can’t avoid pain; it comes with life. The only thing you can control is how you react to it. This is one of the most important life lessons I learned back in 2010. I will never forget my father. And I will continue to teach the lessons above to my daughter for as long as I live.