Thursday, October 4, 2012

I remember with distinct certainty the worst birthday of my entire life. It was 2009, and I was in school at Auburn.  I was on the way home from school on the Tiger Transit, when my Mom called me in tears.  She told me that our family friend, Todd, was not expected to make it much longer.  Todd was diagnosed a few months previously with a rare disease called amyloidosis, which I have since learned is an abnormal protein that can deposit itself in various organs of the body.  I remember trying to hold back the tears running down my face on the bus.  I was in utter shock and disbelief.  I told a friend of mine not long ago that the last time I can remember ugly crying was on that day.  Todd Hawthorne was a special man to many. He was the President of the Athletic Club...a husband to a beautiful wife and a father to two sweet daughters...a friend...a leader in our community.  More than anything, though, I could see how much respect my Dad had for Todd.  My Dad always told me, "If I had to pick two men to say were my best friends and would never let me down, I'd say Allen Weeks and Todd Hawthorne".  We all thought so highly of Todd, and he always seemed to have a genuine interest in the things going on in our lives.  He was also one of the most hard working men I've ever known.  He poured hours upon hours into the atheltic programs at our high school, often working multiple nights a week in the concession stand and traveling to the away games to show his support before he was diagnosed.  Then, on October 4, 2009, Todd was relieved of his suffering, as amyloidosis took his life.  But...I am certain that Todd is watching down on all of us now, he's probably up there bringing smiles to the faces of others, just as he did while he was here. Todd was a big Alabama fan, and the next January, as Alabama won the national championship, I remember thinking to myself that a little piece of that had to be Todd up there, willing Bama to victory. 

I often find myself asking why bad things happen to good people.  What is the incentive to be up, if life is just going to make every attempt to knock you down? I like to think that God chooses His very best to be examples to others.  He picks the influential people...the people He knows will take this burden and use it for the greater good.  If Todd has taught me anything, it is to take life by the horns.  Live every day like it's your last. Appreciate the time you have here.  Love on the people you care about. Live life with no regrets over things you should have done.  And about all, be a good person and everything else will fall into place. We love you Todd.  We miss you...and we can't wait to see you again someday. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Happy Girls...

"I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls."  -Audrey Hepburn

I've probably heard that quote hundreds of times in my life, but I happened upon it today and really thought about what it means to me.  If happy girls are indeed the prettiest girls, I feel like I must be radiant...and not because of anything I have done, but because of how incredibly blessed I am.  I can't think of a single time in my life that I have been so content and happy with where I am...and who wouldn't be? I get to wake up every morning and go do something that I love...something that I am passionate about.  People trust me with their personal lives, with their well-being.  They believe that, somehow, I can be of help to them..and some days, I actually feel like I can.  Some days I feel like I'm going to make a decent doctor.  I feel like I'm learning more every day than I have ever learned in my life...not only about medicine, but about myself.  I've found that I love working with teenagers.  They are at such a vulnerable age.  All adolescents need positive role models...they need someone they can talk to, someone they can trust.  Sure, they can be stubborn, but they also need someone to break through the barriers that they put up.  They need someone to help them figure out their place in the world.  I can foresee working with teenagers as a huge part of my future in medicine.

Not only am I blessed with a future career that I adore, but I've also got some pretty amazing people in my life.  Of course, as is evidenced by my previous blogs, I have the best family a girl could ask for...but I also have the best friends.  I'm so glad I'm at a place in my life where I can still spend time with them on weekends...and random weeknights on the phone gossiping for hours.  We make time for each other, we roadtrip to see each other, we pray for each other, and I know that they are there for me anytime of the day or night.  They tell me things I don't want to hear, but need to hear.  They are patient with me when I make the same mistakes over...and over...and over.  I pity girls who don't have that, and I am thankful to have been blessed with such amazing friends in my life.

When I look back at my life one year ago, I was in a bad place.  I wasn't a very happy girl.  I was complacent and satisfied with the status quo. I had so many stresses in my life that I didn't even know who I was anymore.  One of my all-time favorite quotes is, "You wanna gotta give up the s*** that weighs you down".  No truer words have ever been spoken.  Life naturally gives us enough stress...why should we choose to keep things around that just add insult to injury? I decided awhile back that I wasn't settling in my life.  I have a picture of what I want for my future, and I'm not willing to compromise some of those things...and I'm definitely learning to cut out unneccessary stress.  However, I also believe that the opposite is true...if you find something that makes you happy, hang onto it.  Those concepts seem so simple, yet living them out can be so hard.  I encourage you to try might be a little more satisfied with what you see when you look in the mirror. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Twenty Six Years

On March 22, 1986, two high school sweethearts said their vows and tied the knot. They were young. They had no money, and lots of people thought they would never make it. Twenty-six years later, I am blessed to say they have proven those people wrong. Those high school sweethearts were my parents, and they are celebrating their 26th wedding anniversary tomorrow. Since that day in 1986, my parents have gone to college, established careers, raised three wonderful daughters (if I do say so, myself), and given so much to our community. I am beyond blessed to be able to call them my parents.

My Mom and Dad are true examples of people who started with nearly nothing and worked hard for everything they have. When I was first born, my Dad was going to college, working full time, and helping my Mom raise me. He told me he can remember days when he would be on the way home from Troy and would not even have enough change in the cupholder to buy a drink at the store. Sometimes when I start to complain about how hard I'm having to work in medical school, I think about that story. Yes, medical school is hard, and I am working harder than I have ever had to work in my life, but I never have to worry about not having enough money to meet my basic needs. My mom is equally hard-working. She works full time, keeps our house spotless, does all the laundry, and helps take her of her parents. I don't know how she has enough hours in the day to do everything she does. I can only hope that one day I can have the same work ethic as my parents.

For as long as I can remember, my house has been like a Kinston version of Grand Central Station. As a family, we are blessed with so many close friends, and it has always been our philosophy that we should make everyone feel like our home is their home. In high school, my parents opened our home to all my friends. It was always buzzing with commotion as we got ready for Friday night football games, volleyball games, and Homecoming dances. My Mom always had snacks waiting on us, and we always had room for one more at the dinner table. When softball season rolled around, the entire softball team was adopted as family. We celebrated wins at our house, strategized after losses, and cried over season ending injuries. There are just no words to explain how accepting, generous, and caring my parents have been throughout the years. Even today, at twenty-five years old, I know without a doubt that anytime I need to go home, my parents will be there with open arms.

I can honestly say I can't remember one important event in my life that my parents have missed. One of them has been at every volleyball game, softball game, cheerleading event, Prom, honors banquet, athletic banquet, school play, church play, the list goes on and on...and on. The older I get, the more I see how much my parents truly sacrifice for us. My Dad always jokes that if he didn't have all three of us, he would definitely have enough money for a house at the beach. While that may be true, I know they would not have it any other way. We are the apples of our parents eye. We will always be their little girls, no matter how old we get.

Sometimes I honestly worry that when I grow up and have my own family one day, there will be no way my "grown-up" family can compare to my "growing up" family. I guess it's hard for me to understand how it really could ever get any better. I worry that I won't raise my children the right way, or that my family won't be as close. However, I have faith that God has someone incredible in store for me. He is going to see to it that I have an equally awesome family, and a marriage as solid as my parents'.

My family is my rock. I would never be able to get through the struggles of life without them...and the foundation of my family is my parents. I don't thank God enough for them. Bethany, Baylee, and I are truly blessed. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. I love you both so very much!