Cancer was the best of times; cancer was the worst of times. Wait, what? Cancer? Yeah, that’s a heavy topic. I promise this story is not a buzz kill, so hear me out. Everyone has their rough times during their time at Carroll. Change occurs and your world is flipped upside down. However, these moments of change define who we are and make us better people.
My defining moment at Carroll was a little different than most. While most students at JCU were ending their Fall 2012 semester studying, I was in a very different position. After 13 years of battling cancer, it had been made clear to my family that my dad’s battle with cancer would soon end. I stayed at school, waiting for the call that it was time to come home.
At the time, I didn’t know that the phone call I was getting from my mom would be my defining moment. I answered the phone after class and all my mom said, “Kaelyn, it’s time to come home. The hospice doctor just told us that if your dad even makes it through the night, he has five days.” I immediately knew that the second I left JCU to go home, I would be a different person. Everything was going to change, I was going to change, and if anyone reading this knows me I freak when it comes change.
My dad passed away five days later on December 4, 2012. I woke up the next morning at 1 p.m. with 115 text messages, many of which came from members of the John Carroll community. The outpouring of love and support from the entire JCU community was overwhelming. Right then and there I knew my decision to go to John Carroll was the best decision I had made.
Even still, the impending doom of returning to a normal life at JCU after my dad passed away was terrifying. I knew that not many people were going to understand what I was going through. I really didn’t even understand it either. I expressed my grief through anger rather than sadness. To me, crying was weak and anger was strong. I wanted to be strong. I wasn’t ready to be open about my hurt, I wasn’t ready to accept it and move forward, but everyone else was moving forward without me, and I couldn’t forgive people for that when I was stuck.
Here comes the silver lining. It got better. I had an amazing friend who stuck by my side no matter how annoying I was. This friend was my strength when I had none. Most importantly, this individual reminded me that I wasn’t alone. He surprised me by showing me that other people had faith in me even though I didn’t have faith in myself. He forced me to become confident in the new person I had become after losing my dad. Thanks to Alex, I was able to enter this past school year and be an active member in the JCU community again. I learned to be open to forgiveness and accepting of other people’s love and support. Doing these things doesn’t make you weak.
Now here I am, writing my senior column. With all the support and love I have been shown and had felt throughout these past four years, it is scary to think that I won’t be coming back. The beautiful thing about John Carroll though is that it instills amazing qualities into its students, my friends, which will be something I never lose. These past couple weeks, my eyes and heart have truly been opened up to the forgiveness, love, and spirit of other people on our campus, and I have never been so happy.
Thank you to the JCU community for having faith, love and support for one another. Thank you to my Kappa Delta sisters (especially seniors) for never allowing failure to be an option for me. Thank you to the members of Delta Tau Delta for showing me it was okay to laugh and be happy again, and for being there for me when I pushed everyone else out.
A special shout out goes to my mom for always guilt tripping me into staying at John Carroll by telling me my dad would want me to be here. I owe her and my sisters the biggest thank you of all. Thank you for never giving up on me, even when I always gave up on myself and when I was the most annoying, rude, and emotional mess. I wouldn’t be where I am without you three and I love you all with my whole heart. I will miss the JCU community, but I know that I will always have the friends I made here behind me, no matter what life throws at me next. Thank you.