I (Patty) couldn’t resist sharing this beautiful response from my friend’s 19 yr. old son, Andy Whiten, when he was asked this question:
In twenty years, where do you see yourself?
Growing up, life seemed pretty simple to me. You make friends by being kind to everyone, you have fun because life is a carnival, and you love your family because they love you. That felt like a good strategy, so I stuck to it.
Through this process, I realized that life is infinitely more complicated than I really could have imagined. I started to realize that if you look closely, the clouds were actually moving really slowly across the sky. I learned that trees were living things, growing more every day because of something called photosynthesis, from the sun. I noticed that not everyone had the same thoughts that I did about “Finding Nemo” being the greatest Disney movie of all time. I learned that chocolate ice cream is unquestionably better than vanilla ice cream, before later learning that cookie dough ice cream is even better than chocolate! Then I discovered that, wait, vanilla actually isn’t that bad, if not better than chocolate! I learned about love, and how my parents met, as well as happiness through friends, video cameras, and a movie script about aliens attacking our backyard. I realized death was a real thing that happens to people sometimes, with the passing of my grandparents. I was taught about sickness, and the major implications that cancer can bring to a family, through the diagnosis of my father when I was in 8th grade. I discovered that life can sometimes be pretty unfair, and isn’t exactly the carnival ride I made it out to be. Having one parent fight and beat cancer was a challenge on it’s own, but 6 years later, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and I had to watch her go through terrible surgeries and months of chemo all over again. Then, it was done, and everyone was happy again. Unfortunately, it didn’t last, and just after Christmas, her cancer returned, and the fight continues. It was hard, but step-by-step, I learned to take life a day at a time. With each day brought new experience, new hardships, and new reasons to love the world for what it is. Bad things happen, sure, but with the bad things come opportunities. Friends from all over came together to support my parents through the healing process. Our church family supplied meals through the chemo weeks to get us back on our feet, and visited as much as possible to show how much they loved us. It was incredible to see the uniting of love through brokenness, and it really encouraged me to see the light come back into my parents eyes every time a new friend stepped foot in the doorway.
Taking life a day at a time really helped change my thoughts on how the world worked. Life is unexpected, death even more so. Sickness comes to anyone, and I can’t assume anything less. Trying to guess the future can be a monumentally dangerous thing in a person’s life, and can lead to heavy devastation to the unexpected. I can’t possibly predict where life will place me in twenty years, mostly because I’m clueless as to what will happen tomorrow. The possibilities are endless, but maybe that’s okay. Life is a roller coaster, and sometimes you have to just take it for what it is: A journey. Each passing day holds knowledge, and in twenty years, I will be happy with my loving family, wondering what the next day’s adventure will hold.
We appreciate Andy’s story and perspective and reminder to embrace each moment and each day.
Lisa and Patty