Hardships help reveal true self


Editor’s Note: Views expressed in guest columns and letters to the editor reflect the views of the author, not the views of The State News.

There are certain days throughout the year you look forward to, and others you wish could slip by without any indication they ever took place.

For me, yesterday used to be one those days I could have gone without.

Yesterday marked the three-year anniversary of the day my father passed away, due to a stroke he suffered during my freshman year of college.

Although this day has become a sort of unofficial holiday in my life, which usually consists of me locking myself away from the world and pretending as if nothing is different, as time has passed, I no longer treat it like the scared 19-year-old kid I used to be.

For anyone who ever has lost a parent, one of the easiest ways to describe what the next few years of your life are like is by imagining an upside-down maze – where your mood feels as if it’s controlled by some unknown source, and the idea of giving up seems much easier than pushing through.

While there are countless positives you can attempt to draw from, and you can focus your attention on things such as the strength or perseverance your family displayed, no matter how hard you try, days such as yesterday make it impossible not to think more on the things you have lost.

Throughout my entire childhood, my father personified the image of what every adult should be.

As a high school superintendent, my father was able to offer repeated appearances in my daily routine and often bragged about the small moments he cherished because of this position – sneaking away to share a quick lunch with me and friends and handing me my high school diploma.

Although I used to dread this day and observed it as a yearly reminder that showcased one of the major differences that separated me from the rest of the world, I slowly have come to view this day as a chance to celebrate the person I am, instead of the person I could have become.

Overall, this event has taught me that no matter how old you get, bad news never seems to come at a good point in your life.

Whether my father’s death would have come when I was a toddler or as an old man with a family of my own, the sorrow it would have created in my heart would have been the same.

Although this notion seems obvious, in the case of my dad, I think it speaks volumes for the universal role sadness can have on each of our lives, and the impact we each can have on someone else’s healing process.

Despite our differences, everyone in this world can remember a time from their past that, for whatever reason, caused them some degree of grief and uncertainty about their future.

Although this is a trend that unfortunately will continue to repeat itself throughout the rest of our lives, I think it also can serve as a reminder for the bond that links each of us together.

Instead of wasting time criticizing each other’s experiences and deciding which ones seem more important compared to our own, I think we all would be a lot better off if we viewed any unfortunate event as something that should be looked at and treated the same.

Although this concept might seem difficult to accept, imagine how different each of our lives could be if the events that previously made us feel different became the glue that helped make us one and the same.

Overall, days like yesterday force me to sit back and be grateful for the things I am lucky to have in my life, and remember the lessons my father taught me that helped make me the person I am today.

While I am unsure whether or not I’ll ever get to a point in my life where these days no longer serve as a reminder of something I’ve lost, I still enjoy sitting back and remembering the last promise I ever made to my father: ensuring that, no matter what, I would make him proud.

Although I am unsure whether or not I have fulfilled my end of the bargain, I am happy to use days like yesterday as a chance to remember the person my father was and the impact he had on my life.

And for now, that seems good enough.

Greg Olsen is a State News staff writer and a professional writing senior. Reach him at olsengr2@msu.edu.

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