Tough Times in Life Teach You How Strong You Really Are

Feb 25, 2013


Renay DeFrees - Lanphier High School
Credit Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

Scared.  Utterly terrified.  That is the only way I can describe how I felt when I was told my father was going to die. I was eight years old when my father was diagnosed with cancer. That was November 18th, 2002. A few weeks passed and everyone held their breath. On December 16th we were told the cancer was terminal. The carcinoma had metastasized and had already spread throughout his whole body. The doctors did not expect him to make it through the week. “It is time to say goodbye”, they said.

At eight years old, my father was my world. Days began with the argument of putting sugar in Wheaties, and ended playing catch in the kitchen with a foam ball and a strainer. But in just three months my whole life was turned upside down. Things changed so fast. It wasn’t long before his coughing got worse and his skin got paler. He had his bad days and his good days but soon it seemed the bad were more frequent than the good. We could have a day of movie watching and laughter, and the next he could be comatose or worse – delusional.

If there is one thing I have learned in my eighteen years, it is that even when life is hard, you get stronger with each passing day.

  It was just barely a week before Christmas; the holiday season was in full bloom. He promised he would make it through the holidays. It was a time for family, a time for love. For our family it was also a time filled with sadness. My father grew more and more ill every day, but he remained adamant that we would not lose him during the holidays. While medicated and barely lucid, my father kept his promise. February 9th, 2003 at 5:15am, on his recliner in the living room, my father died.

Contrary to my original belief, his death did not cause the world to stop spinning. If anything, it made it spin faster. My older brothers were adults and out on their own. Suddenly the home we were living in was far too big for just my mom and her two young girls. That summer we moved to a new house. Things kept changing, but even through the changes, things spinning out of my control, I was still okay.

Now, nearly ten years later, life is still spinning. My mother remarried a few years ago, my sister has moved out, and I graduate from high school in less than four months.  If there is one thing I have learned in my eighteen years, it is that even when life is hard, you get stronger with each passing day. My mother is my greatest example of this. She is an inspiration to me every day. Knowing that she could survive losing her best friend, the love of her life, and still go on, has taught me to believe that the tough times are there to show you, and others, just how strong you really are.