Most of my childhood consisted of hospital waiting rooms, bad cafeteria food, and doctors’ names I couldn’t pronounce. I became inevitably involved with my father’s illness at age nine. I gave shots, dosed medicine, and sanitized stitches. Not the definition of a “daddy’s little girl” others would expect, but that was my childhood. My father’s illness abruptly took his life in 2006, leaving behind his wife and five children. My family had seemingly not suffered enough; for in the following year our unforeseen turmoil was soon to be exposed. Soon after my father’s passing my mother broke her leg, which resulted in bed rest. As the oldest child in the house, I became my mother’s shadow. A month went by and my grandfather, striped from reality, took his own life. We then lost my brother, sister-in-law, and niece to an awful accident in the early months of 2007. Later that year my brother-in-law’s life was taken. Family was quickly turning into only the illusion of togetherness.
My family woke up to the bitter realization of our deteriorating financial status. The burden that was placed on the shoulders of my mother was one she shouldn’t have had to carry alone. Life insurance would have been a responsible precautionary measure. If we had taken such precautions, the constant worry of tomorrow would have been at ease.
These experiences have caused me many emotional highs and lows, but I have finally accepted that I no longer need to run from my past. Instead, I defy it. I am now the only child in my family to have graduated high school with my diploma. Given this scholarship, I will be able to gain a college education, and I will use my experiences to give an understanding in the field of Social Work. With my degree I will be able to join the Peace Corps where I can be a part of the change I wish to see in the world.
Life tends to push you until it finds the point at which you break. Although setbacks have struck me when I am down, I have found that the moment where true failure lies is when I stop trying. I refused to give up then and I refuse to give up now. I wish I could say it better–but I cannot form a sentence that I would deem fit to express how much my family and I would have benefited from life insurance.
I will use my trials as stepping-stones and my education will be the foundation on which I build my life.
My Dad did not plan to have a heart attack. When I was twelve, my father died of a sudden and unexpected heart attack. He always joked that he’d live to be 84 years old, he lived to be 47. No words can describe the shock. The physical pain from the burns was endured, but the loss of my father is unbearable.
There were no options, after Dad died, other than sell the house. We moved from the city to a cramped farm cottage in a rural community. There is no more TV, dishwasher, air conditioner or icemaker; simple things that we once took for granted. The wood stove keeps Mom warm but on cold nights she buries herself under a mountain of blankets rather than use the heat.
We all plan to live. We never plan to die because the thought of dying is just difficult. The lesson learned in all of this is that death is inevitable, we don’t know when, but it will eventually happen. It seems to me that planning for the inevitable is a responsibility. Planning for the inevitable brings death into the present so that you can control the future today. Insurance is the means by which we plan for the future of the family. It eliminates the helplessness of survivors like me that must carry on. Planning before death is caring about the people you love to make them feel safe once you’re gone.
Not being able to pay rent, my reality consists of swapping room service for the privilege of sleeping on my benevolent roommates couch so that I can save every dime for tuition. I borrow textbooks, salvage used supplies, eat rice, and walk to the bus. For me, life is full of hardship, and embarrassment. Every semester I struggle financially, try to negotiate and navigate my way to a degree.
Three semesters strong, I’m a college sophomore with high marks, rock solid and not moving until my goal is complete. Despite hardships I won 1st place in the 47th annual Solon of Art Competition. My art portfolio won a full summer pre-college scholarship. I was placed in the major’s art program bypassing the core foundation courses. A local newspaper wrote a story about me. Seizing every opportunity, as a leader giving back, I have trained with the Wisconsin Alliance for Burn Injured Youth and worked at a summer camp teaching digital photography. Invited to show my art alongside established artists, for the first time, life with art seems hopeful.
The morning of Parent’s Weekend I anticipated to hear from my mom, instead I received a call from a Missouri State Patrol officer. My mom had a heart attack in the car and had been rushed to the University Hospital on campus. The officer drove my nephew to me and as soon as he arrived, we ran to the hospital. Her prognosis was not looking good. I called my family to tell them what happened and experienced the saddest moment of my life: telling my grandmother that she would never speak to her daughter again. Later that evening I held my mothers hand for the last time as her lungs expanded and contracted one final, heartbreaking time.
The months that followed have been the hardest of my life. In addition to the extreme emotional, intellectual, and physical turmoil that comes with the loss of a parent, I was caught in a very difficult financial situation. My mom did not have any form of life insurance so the financial burden of her passing fell firmly onto the shoulders of my brothers and I. I was forced to move out of my college dorm room and get a job that offers housing and meal plans as compensation for work as well as a job serving tables for school expenses and bills. I have been and still am working upwards of fifty hours per week while attending seventeen credit hours in school. If my mom had had life insurance, my brothers and I would not have to make such drastic lifestyle changes. I would be able to focus more on my academics and would not be worrying about whether or not I will be able to afford to return to school in the fall.
The experience has taught me a valuable lesson. While we could never prepare for the profound emotional pain of losing a parent, we could have been better prepared the financial burden. Life insurance would have eased the transition to life without my mother by taking the financial weight off of our shoulders. When you lose a parent, you lose a best friend, a mentor, and a companion. You should not have to sacrifice your aspirations as well.