Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Loving in the present lasts a lifetime

Jane Hao

The Friday before Thanksgiving, my dad called and said my parents would get to Austin a few hours late. My mom was stuck at a mammogram, but I brushed it off because I knew that whatever was taking so long was just routine caution. If anything, I was slightly annoyed — not because I was excited to see them, but because I needed help moving a few things from my dorm. 

The following Monday was my mom’s birthday, so we woke up early to celebrate. We went shopping, ate at her favorite places and got her favorite snacks. We were driving to get her free coffee when she got a call from the doctor’s office. It automatically connected to her speakers, so the nurse’s voice abruptly interrupted our music. 

On her 54th birthday, we found out my mom had breast cancer.

I don’t remember what the doctor said. I tuned everything out once I heard those words. Without thinking, I reached across the table and grabbed my mom’s hand. I couldn’t think, and all I knew was that I wanted to be as close to her as I could be. I tried to look brave and stay calm, but my floodgates burst as heavy drops rolled down my face. 

I couldn’t sleep the whole week. It felt like time stopped and the world had gotten smaller. I spent every moment that week in her presence, and even late in the evenings, I couldn’t tear myself from my seat next to her on the couch. My plans to catch up on work or to study for finals were forgotten as my mind became occupied by my love for my mom.

I barely finished my assignments that week, and the two after dragged on eternally. I felt ridiculous wasting time on flashcards and final essays when my mom’s life lay uncertain. I resented the distance that kept me from hugging her each time I cried, and I hated having to wait for updates through a slab of glass.

As little kids, we felt like the center of the universe. We focused on our moms’ annoying lectures and our dads’ stern groundings. The world ended when we couldn’t see our friends or we got our phones taken away. 

Occasionally, I saw hardships fall upon other families, but it felt so far away from my own. We forget that the older we get, the older our parents get, too. It’s not our fault — we’ve known them our entire lives, so we can’t imagine a world without them. 

Being in college and focusing on our futures can be stressful enough on its own. It sometimes feels like getting that internship or passing that final is the most important thing in our lives. We forget that we can always reapply next year or retake a class, but we can’t replace the time with our loved ones once they’re gone. 

Having a sick parent while being away at school is hard. For some students, it might even be the first real adult stress they’ve had to deal with. It’s important to remember that we are still just young people trying to figure out the world. It’s ok to ask for help, and it’s ok to care for ourselves. 

It’s also important sometimes to reconsider our balance between working and indulging in the present. I care about my success, but I also never want to look back on my life and wish I had not taken my mom’s calls, her silly Instagram messages or even the cheesy movies she likes for granted. 

Most importantly, the success I hope to attain from getting caught up in my future will mean nothing one day if it’s at the expense of the people I want to share it with most. We’re so worried about wasting time in our education, but we forget about the equally detrimental ways that we waste the precious time left with those we care about. 

So, the next time a loved one calls, remember that taking a few minutes to hear their voice and telling them that you love them won’t make a difference in whether or not you succeed. Taking a couple of minutes out of studying to respond to your mom’s text, or even taking an hour out of your weekend to do something kind for your sibling, will one day be more meaningful than writing an essay you’ll forget about in 20 years. It might make a difference, though, in whether or not one day you wish you could remind them of how much you love them one final time. 

Lack is a dance and Plan II sophomore from San Angelo, Texas.

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