In Life Transitions, Susan Toth will focus on the natural and not-so natural stages of our lives. Each issue will spotlight a particular transition, from graduating from college, getting married, having a baby, or helping your child get ready to leave the nest, Life Transitions will provide Identity readers with practical advice, tips and resources that I’ve learned over the years.
When Susan and I first talked about this blog, and about transitions, I said to her that every time we lift our heads off our pillows and start a new day is a transition. Corny as it may sound, every day is the first one of the rest of our lives. And while that’s definitely true, some days, and some transitions, are more difficult than others.
One of the first real, true transitions that I had ever faced in my life was the very sudden death of my mother when I was 15 years old. She hadn’t been feeling quite right, but refused to go to the doctor, until after a few days, my father insisted he was going to take her the following morning. I went off to school, as was the norm. Suddenly I was called to the office. I found my older brother waiting for me, and with his words, “mom had a stroke, and it doesn’t look good,” my world changed forever.
After four days of being in a coma, my mother died. I never had the chance to say goodbye, or tell her just one more time how much I loved her. It was, and to this day still is, the most devastating thing that’s ever happened to me.
My mother’s death marked the first of many transitions in my life. I had to grow up that day, much faster than I ever would have liked. I had many more responsibilities than I’d ever had, including all the household chores for myself and my father and brother, with whom I lived, and watching over my father, who was also completely devastated over the loss of his beloved wife. All this while trying to navigate the already hellish teenage years.
There was nothing about that time that was easy. And if I could change it, I would still have my mother with me today. But that transition in my life, though not chosen, made me a stronger person. It taught me that life isn’t always perfect, and things don’t always go the way you want them to. Sometimes life sends you in a direction that you never intended to go. What eventually worked for me was to try and make the best of things, and forge a new path, when the one I was on was suddenly taken from me. It’s not easy, and it takes time. I’m still forging that path, 34 years later. But with time, it does work. I hope it will work for you.