I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting with my mom in white plastic chairs on her front porch talking about life. I was roughly 21, so my true sense of life had literally barely begun to show itself. I was probably more worried about getting to the bar to play some Golden Tee with my brand new boyfriend, Justin, than to sit there and fully grasp the conversation she was trying to have with me.
“Don’t do what I did, Danielle,” she said, shaking her head slowly. She took a long hit off of her menthol light 100 before finishing. She exhaled and a cloud of smoke drifted over the porch railing, blue paint chipping of from bad weather over the winter. “Don’t wait until you’re forty to figure out what makes you happy.”
“But I am happy,” I said. And I was, or at least I was a superficial version of happy. One where my judgement was both blissfully ignorant of how cruel the world can be and also clouded from too many late nights at Club Sin where I danced my troubles away over loud music and Jager Bombs.
“I’m serious, Danielle. Find what makes you happy and do it. But don’t just do it; do it with your whole heart.” I rolled my eyes at her for trying to be way too serious.
But my mom was such an intelligent woman who only ever wanted the very best for my sister and me. And she was often ‘way too serious’ in her conversations, but she was also full of wisdom and life lessons.
This happened to be one of those lessons.
You see, my mom decided when she was in her forties that she wanted to be a nurse. Helping people had always been her passion and it took her forty long years to realize her dreams.
After she graduated, she worked in hospice and loved every moment of it. I had never seen her happier. She would go to work and come home with a smile on her face. She was happy like that until the day she found out she had cancer, at which time she was no longer able to be around her sick patients. Having to quit being a nurse made my mom incredibly sad. Her dream had been crushed by cancer.
Last week, on the four year anniversary of her death, that conversation from her front porch crossed my mind and I literally had a come-to-Jesus moment.
We need to do what makes us happy, no matter what that is, because we have no idea what tomorrow holds. If we hold off on our dreams they will only ever be just dreams. And I don’t know about you, but I have big things in store for my dreams, so not going after them TODAY isn’t an option.