As I was walking back to my apartment on a cold and rainy night last December, I had no idea my life was about to change forever. I reached the parking lot and was confused to see my Dad walk out of an SUV. When he reached me on the sidewalk, he wordlessly handed me my mother's wedding ring with tears in his eyes. My mom, my best friend in the entire world, was hit by a car on the walk she took everyday.
Just like that, she was gone forever.
When tragedies like this occur, the most common question asked always ends up being, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" It's a question that has been asked for hundreds of years, and it will never stop being asked in the future. But after having a couple of months to reflect, I realized it's a question no one should ever ask.
Why do bad things happen to anyone? Whether you wear a white hat like Olivia Pope or you're as shady as Cyrus, no one deserves to feel the pain of losing the person they love the most. Eventually, you have to face the reality that you will never know why these things happen, and losing the most important thing to you causes you to ask the most important questions.
How do I really live my life to the fullest? This is what we should be asking when something happens that makes us realize life is fragile. We read quotes about living on Pinterest, watch inspirational movies and listen to motivational songs, but we often forget to find meaning in our own lives.
As college students, it becomes so easy to get tunnel vision. We are stuck in a bubble where we're between just being kids and turning into adults. Instead of seeing the big picture, we get caught seeing only what is right in front of us.
Of course, we should have fun, enjoy our college years and live in the moment. Go ahead and stay out till 4:00 a.m. on a Tuesday, have that extra beer and take the time to enjoy the things you'll only get to experience within these four (or five) short years.
However, it's also essential to remember we have many years after college that are going to turn out to be just as important. In that sense, we need to distinguish between the moments that will impact us forever and the ones that we'll never remember.
Twenty years from now, you will remember the friends who were there for you during the worst moments of your life. That frat guy you met at the bar who didn't text you back the next day won't matter. You'll remember the crazy nights of partying, but staying in occasionally to ace that final and subsequently landing your dream job will turn out to be even more important.
As cliché as it sounds, we all really do take so many parts of our lives for granted. As much as we've heard it, we need to remember to appreciate the little things. Whether it's as simple as eating that delicious burrito bowl from Chipotle or something as critical as family, there is so much to be thankful for everyday.
Losing my mom is an obstacle I have to conquer everyday of my life, and the only way I get through it is by making the experience something I need to live for. My mom knew how to live life to the fullest. She accomplished more in 49 years than most people accomplish in a lifetime, and she did it all while remembering to have as much fun as possible. I live for my mom everyday; I live to make her proud. I live to be the woman she wanted me to become, and I live to carry on her legacy.
Find that thing that makes you want to live, find that person that makes you want to become a better version of yourself and most importantly remember how lucky you are to be a part of this amazing thing called life.
Originally published on Unwritten.
Rachel is a writer for Unwritten. She is a sophomore journalism and government and politics double major at the University of Maryland. Follow her on twitter @Rgreenwald94.