She, and my husband, tend to just stuff it. They are scared, but they won't verbalize it. Often, the way my husband's family deals with significant troubles is just to put themselves into a state of denial.
My daughter is a senior and is applying to various colleges. This is her essay in her application to honors college to a public Ohio University. I'm sharing it with you because I think it is pretty good, especially for a girl who hates to read and despises writing even more (see? none of my genes are present!).
"I want to know how to get the most out of my time on earth. Albert Einstein once said “Once you stop learning, you start dying.” There is no point in continuing if you know everything, and do not learn from your mistakes. I want to seize the day. If a day goes by where I have not accomplished something, learned something, or most importantly had fun, it is a waste of precious time. We are not immortal, and eventually we will all die. For all we know, we could die tomorrow in a car crash, or next year of cancer. Instead of being afraid of death, I want to learn to live life now. When I die, I want to know that I have lived a fulfilling life, and done all I could possibly have done.
Conversely, I have not always lived my life with this philosophy. This realization is rather recent, and my relationship with my mother has played a huge role in it. Until this year I really didn’t have much motivation. I didn’t have a drive to want to learn, everything I ever really wanted to know, my mother already knew. If I had a question, I would ask her, and she would know. Most of the time I found her wide range of knowledge annoying. I would want to know who the third President was, or when the first airplane was made, and I would get an answer to my question, and all else there is to know on the topic.
Unfortunately, right before my senior year, in May, my mother’s cancer returned. In 1994 she had it in her breast and underwent chemo and radiation. In 1997, it returned as stage IV, in her breast and pelvis. After a tough fight, as I moved on to first grade, she moved on from the disease. Until this year she has been clean, that’s thirteen years, cancer-free. Sadly, cancer never really leaves and next week she will undergo her first round of chemo. It has spread to her ribs, sternum, shoulder, and hip.
Knowing how cancer works, and the intensity of what my mother is fighting, I am smart enough to realize she will not be around forever. I have to learn how to still ask questions, but find the answers on my own.
What I really want to know, you can not take a class, or read a book to learn. I want to know how to be strong, and fight like my mother. I come from a line of strong women, women who speak up for themselves, make their own money, and make their own life. They do not need anyone to help them through it. I am still young and do not feel like there is anyway I can live up to these women. I have a huge legacy to follow, and have already wasted precious time.
I am not one to lie, during the early years of my schooling I did not challenge myself much. My personality is not competitive and as long as I got all A’s, my parents were satisfied. I had a care free childhood. Even my pre-teens, in a private school weren’t terribly challenging. Until sophomore year, I didn’t know what hard work was. I now know what it takes to struggle, and learn something new. Battling through new material has been draining, but I feel refreshed, and renewed, everyday.
As I am also a cross country runner, I know what accomplishment feels like. Every week I get done with a ten mile run and feel fulfilled. Lately, learning has given me even more of a rush. I feel as if every moment I spend not challenging myself, I am wasting my time.
My time is precious. If I am to live up even slightly to my mother’s legacy, I should have started studying a few years ago. Actually, I should have started reading much more in third grade. I am not the common overachiever. In fact, I would describe myself as faithful procrastinator. Strangely, there is a drive in me, probably from my mother, that makes me dive into my work and finish it. Once I get into something like a math assignment, organizing a team event, or writing a paper, I put two-hundred percent effort into it. This has always been the case.
Again, I am not your typical overachiever. I did not apply to Harvard as a “reach school,” nor did I take a chance at North Carolina. I want to be at a school that fits me, and my lifestyle. No matter where I end up, I know I am going to make the most of it. Being a part of the Honors Program is a step toward my future, full of challenges and life. "
I guess she'll be OK...at least this is a good step forward. I'm pretty proud of her. She's got a lot of growing to do, but I think she'll do just fine. Maybe she is a chip off her mother's block as well.