Turn the worst thing that happened in your life into the best thing that happened in your life.
Ten years ago my father passed away. He was a great man. He was a hero in my life. When he died I was devastated.
I was 25. My dad and I didn’t really see eye to eye on some things, but we had a good relationship when I came around. I generally avoided visiting and worked instead, whenever given the chance. I never got a chance to say goodbye to my dad. I held guilt for not being around for many years.
On April 4th, 2008 I got a phone call at about 4:50AM. It woke me up, but went to voicemail before I could find my phone. I remember rubbing the sleep from my eyes, walking into the bathroom, and my phone ringing again. Caller ID said “Fargo Police Department”. My parents had just moved to Fargo in the summer of 2007. I knew the call was going to be bad.
The officer on the other end informed me there had been an incident with my father. He had been rushed to the ER. The officer advised “Your mom is with him but she is shaken up. She asked me to call you. You had better come. He might not have long.”
That drive from Minneapolis to Fargo was just surreal. I had just purchased a CD – Remember, this is 2008, Cheapo was still a regular stop for me back then – and listened to it the entire drive. The CD was an older Bruce Springsteen album, The River. I bought it after watching Adam Sandler movie, Reign Over Me. Every time I hear the song Independence Day, or other tracks from The River, I remember that drive. It was a cloudy, rain less April morning. I drove with the radio volume cranked up and the windows down, puffing cigarettes most of the way.
My dad passed away on April 17th, 2008. We were told a phantom virus attacked his heart. His heart recovered, but his brain had lost blood for too long. He could survive on machines for any period of time. However, there was no hope of him ever regaining concsiousness or cognition.
It was really hard to hear because we had some hope during that time that he might recover. There was no chance of that. A decision had to be made to end his life support.
In the years that followed, my life was a downward spiral of depression. The only real thing that got me through it was work. I just started working harder and longer.
I couldn’t work all the time though. So, I started reading books. A friend had told me about the Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King. I read The Gunslinger, and I was hooked. Not just on that series but on Stephen King books. The Stephen King universe is pretty cool! His books are “scary” but not quite the same as the movies. A Stephen King book is an adventure from start to finish, usually packed with hidden “easter eggs” for the serious “King heads”. King has a unique way of tying in characters and other story elements together through otherwise unrelated stories. Check out Multiverse for more Cool Stuff!
I bought a guitar too. I taught myself some tabs and learned some chords. I got pretty “ok” at strumming a few songs.
Then I started thinking to myself, if I can read this many books and teach myself music, I think I could go back to school. College is just a bunch of reading. Plus I had been working a desk job in customer service by this time. I knew if I wanted to keep a desk job, I didn’t want not stay in customer service forever. A degree was the path for me.
So at 28 years old I decided to go back to college. I took classes online, part time. I continued to work at my job. In 2014 I graduated with Honors, earning an Associated Degree in Business Logistics. I got an awesome job promotion with the company. I became a buyer. I supported a dynamic team as a buyer for the next three years. A month after I got this job I enrolled in my second degree program.
My boss told me I need a Bachelors if I ever wanted to become a salaried employee. So I enrolled in a Bachelors program. I excelled at both work and school. In August of 2017, I graduated Summa Cum Laude, earning a Bachelors in Business Administration with an Emphasis in Supply Chain Management.
In November of 2017, I was promoted to a Strategic Buyer; the salaried position I had been working for. After over six years of working 40-plus hours a week, and going to school for another 30 hours a week, I finally got to my goal!
My dad passing away was the worst thing that ever happened to me. My goal has been to turn it into the best thing I can. My dad decided when he was 40 that he wanted to go back to school. Among countless other things, I learned from my dad that is never too late in life to pursue a goal.
Set goals. Work hard. Dream big.
Like ET says… Use your pain to push yourself to success! On the other side of pain is success.