“Everything happens for a reason,” is the generic response someone says to comfort another during a difficult time.
Its purpose is to give hope. Hope is not always an easy thing to have, especially when someone you love becomes ill. Perspectives change. The things that were once so important no longer hold the same kind of value.
When I decided that I wanted to transfer from the large university I attended directly after high school it was because I had decided I wanted to be closer to home and I didn’t know what I wanted to study. It felt like everyone around me had a five-year plan and knew what they ultimately wanted to do for a career. Now I know this probably wasn’t the case, but I still felt the pressure of choosing a major. I was undecided and I had taken so many random courses. Nothing seemed to fit. I wanted to take time to figure out what I would enjoy and what would eventually lead to a career where I could be both passionate and successful – where I could be happy.
I spent my time exploring choices after leaving my first college. I began an internship working with special needs teens to experience what a career in teaching would be like. Although I enjoyed it, I knew that it wasn’t the right fit. I also worked part-time jobs in sales, hospitality, medicine and child care.
In between classes and shifts, I began visiting my grandmother, lovingly known as Gram, more often. We would go out to lunch together then usually run a few different errands. We would talk for hours about everything from her life experiences such as how she met my grandfather and what her parents and grandparents were like, to discussing what I want to accomplish in my life.
We often spent time talking about our large but close-knit family. I am the youngest of her 10 grandchildren and all but my two siblings and myself are married and have families of their own, which bestowed on her the title of a great grandmother of 13. Therefore, it seemed like we always had a birthday party, shower, christening, wedding, etc., that was coming or had recently passed. Despite everyone’s hectic lives, we always take time and show up to support each other in all our many milestones. Gram always loved being the first to know when one of us had news to share.
Gram was very excited when I transferred to Seton Hall. She would always ask me about class and I would bring her copies of The Setonian. She would cut out my articles and hang them on her fridge next to pictures of all her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was our cheerleader and there was something special that came from sharing successes and celebrations with her because there was nothing that gave her more joy than to see her family happy.
My Gram passed away at the age of 95 this past August. It was, of course, devastating for everyone who knew her, because as a former teacher she truly was a kind and good hearted person. To know her really was to love her. Perhaps there is truth in that generic response “everything does happen for a reason.” If I had never transferred closer to home when I did, I would have missed all those lunches and one-on-one time with Gram, running to the market to pick up some more Lipton tea and ingredients to make her homemade chicken soup.
I will treasure those little moments for the rest of my life. I am heartbroken that I will not be able to celebrate my graduation with her but because of her, I have a large, caring family to serve as a reminder of her love and support.
Keaghlan Brady is a public relations major from Sparta, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.