Written by: Ania Fiduccia
Given my busy schedule and the need to ‘make something of myself’, I took many of those days for granted…firm in the belief that eventually this fast-paced life would slow down so I could enjoy more days with friends and family.
But that’s when the universe decided to hit me with a hard dose of reality: the news of my mom’s life-threatening illness.
My mother was diagnosed with ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s Disease). For those who are not familiar with ALS, it is basically a disease with no cure that debilitates the body until you can no longer speak, walk, or even move. My mom’s fight with ALS lasted over two years, until she no longer had the strength to continue fighting.
But she was not the only one experiencing a difficult battle, as I was also along for the ride. And it was shortly after this announcement that I finally understood what my parents would try telling me as a child: work will always be there, but time with your family and friends will be limited.
Even though we all know our journey in life will eventually come to an end, I believed there was still plenty of time left. So it was a tough pill to swallow knowing I would soon say goodbye to my mom, long before it was her time to go.
Years after her death, it seems like there is still so much left unsaid; so many adventures never taken. And so many new memories we planned for are now regrets of the past. This chapter was (is) one of the most difficult moments of my life, and I will forever reflect on this loss with darkness and sorrow. For watching a loved one fight a terminal illness is an ongoing pain that leaves you feeling completely hollow inside.
Yet at the same time, this experience totally reshaped all of my values, and had influenced a major change in my life just months later.
At just 25 years old, I realized that a career was not what my heart desired. So four months after my mom passed away, I left the 3-hour commute, the unnecessary meetings, and the business suits of my corporate job.
I was fortunate enough to join my husband in the pursuit of an entrepreneurial lifestyle. I knew I wanted to do something with my life that matters, and something that changes people’s lives for the better.
In the end I longed for balance. As a business owner, my career decisions are now based on how well it balances with my time for family (and vice versa). My heart now chooses to make memories instead of scroll through a social media for hours on end. Because I know first hand how valuable a lasting memory can be.
Though my career still keeps me very busy, there are plenty of days when I simply unplug from technology…using that time to recharge with my family. And I am now able to be everything I wanted: an entrepreneur, a mom, a wife, and a friend.
And all of this would not be possible without the help of my own mother. Because through the pain and struggles of saying goodbye to mom at such a young age, I have now found the balance in life that most others continue to struggle with.
My mother’s final lesson in life has also turned out to be my greatest gift. I now know beyond the pain, there are rainbows and hope.
So my message to you is simple: work puts food on the table and a roof over your heads. But making memories on those sunny days with family and friends is what life is truly all about.