Tonight was my first encounter with Listen, Lucy.

"Listen, Lucy:  Tonight was my first encounter with Listen, Lucy. Everyone has a story, a unique one that makes them who they are. Each of our stories have different chapters, different hardships, different obstacles we hurdle to come to where we are. Reflecting on some of the stories I felt maybe a small part of my story, just one chapter could be of value to someone else.

As I sat alone in my studio apartment I didn’t know where to begin. And then it occurred to me—I have to find the essay I wrote as my college essay years ago. And so my story begins with 18 year old me: “You weren't there to teach me how to ride a bike, or how to drive a car. You weren't there when I lost my first tooth, or at my first day of school. You weren't there at father-daughter dance, or at my basketball and volleyball games. Come to think of it, you were never there. Typically, when someone thinks of a person who made an influence on their life, they recall someone who has always been there for them. However, I think of someone who was absent throughout my life, someone who should have been there for me, I think of my father.

I suppose this could be quite strange to many people, yet, I look at it as a positive thing. However, it was not always this way. I used to question "Why me?", and wonder how could someone who is supposed to love and care about me could simply walk out of my life without a care. I didn’t trust men, and I felt that everyone was going to leave me just like him. I felt that maybe it was me, maybe I wasn’t good enough to stay. Maybe I was the problem. I became depressed, developed anxiety, and with that came eating disorders, and constantly striving for perfection. I thought maybe if I was perfect, then he would love me. A parent is someone who is supposed to guide you and help you evolve into the best person you can possibly be. I used to be afraid to get close to people, and I was afraid that they too were going to walk out of my life.

However, I realized that I could either go through my life questioning, or make the best out of the situation. You see, when a person endures hardships during their lives they come to realize that they faced those hardships for a reason and quite frankly I believe that through the difficulties my father caused me to experience made me evolve into a strong, and caring person. Due to his absence I came to the realization that people are in your life for a reason, and that life is what you make of it. My father's purpose in my life was to make me the person that I am today. Because of him, I want to make a difference in the world, especially for children. I never want a child to go through hardships such as the one that I encountered. I believe that he is the reason, why I want to become a teacher. I aspire to help children learn, watch them grow, and make a meaningful difference in the world.

His absence has pushed me to become the best person I can be, I strive to make a difference in the world, and to help people who do not have a positive outlook on life. Life is what you make out of it and you alone have the responsibility to shape your life. Sure, along the way you will encounter hardships but how you react to them determines your fate.” – This is the letter that I wrote as my college essay, not the typical route of how great of an athlete, or scholar I was; but I chose to go the personal route. Something that still do this day I struggle to talk about. Fast forwarding a few years I find it most opportune that Listen, Lucy has come into my life. This past year my life changed in a huge way—I received a phone call that my father, a man whom I had never met, was dying in a hospital bed about 500 miles away. In that moment, I was flushed with emotions and made the choice- I had to go. This was the scariest and most overwhelming choice I had made- I was going into a place alone where I was meeting my dying father, who was surrounded with family whom I had never met including: my siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. For about two months I drove 1,000 miles a week to see that man slowly dying in front of me; a man whom I’d never spoken to, a man who I couldn’t speak with due to the condition he was in. My whole life I had hated and resented this man for leaving me, making me feel unworthy, alone, unwanted. And he laid before me, as the most critical patient at the hospital. One week before my college graduation, this man did not only defy odds by waking up, but he spoke. Our conversation was full of emotion, forgiveness, and healing. A moment I will never forget. The last words we spoke was that his wish was to have me graduation from college and pursue the life I had always dreamed of. Those words were the last words we exchanged, and the last words he ever spoke as he slipped back into a coma. One week later on the very day of my graduation, I received the call that my father had passed away.

You may say it’s a coincidence but I firmly believe his last words were his final wish, and as I graduated his wish was complete. Life has a crazy way of happening, and each day is blessing. Through this man, his absence, his sickness, my willingness to put the past behind and make that trip to see him, my life has forever changed. I am not alone; I am surrounded by friends and family. I am not unworthy; I am more than worthy. I am not unloved; I loved by many. His absence has made me the strong and brave individual I am today. Of course there times like now, as I sit here crying I do not feel strong. There are times of weakness, and sadness that come over me. But I know that I can get through the rough times. I hope this rant finds someone, and maybe it can make a small difference in their lives.

We are so much stronger than we credit ourselves for, and I never want someone to believe that they cannot push through.