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Arianna Tucker / Her Campus

How I Learned to Truly Cherish the World through Four Words

March 10th, 2020. Easily the worst day of my entire life and one I will remember forever. 

It was a Tuesday, the night before I had three exams in a row. Naturally, that day was mostly spent in the library studying with my boyfriend, Griffin, and my friend, Grace. Everyone who knows me knows that when I’m studying, I don’t focus on anything else and I don’t like to take breaks while I do so. Grace had actually asked if I wanted to get some chicken with her at Wells dining hall -  I refused saying that I needed to study more due to my lack of confidence in me knowing the material enough to take a break. Finally, at the end of the night, I decided to reward myself for all the time I had dedicated to studying by going to watch The Bachelor season finale with some girls from the sorority on campus, Phi Mu. I felt happy at this moment and I was even excited because I got to relax after a long, long day while also feeling confident and well prepared for my exams. I called my house to tell them about my day and to my surprise, my dad picked up the phone instead of my mom. I talked to him for a little while and then I asked where my mom was so I could talk to her too.

His reply was - “Oh, your mom’s just resting right now.”

I questioned that after he told me. My mom resting at only 7:30? That didn’t make much sense to me, but I assumed maybe it had just been a long day for them as it had been for me so, at the time, I didn’t think much about it. 

After The Bachelor episode (which was a pretty upsetting finale - as I’m sure our readers already know from the Bachelor Recap), I went to Griffin’s dorm. I was thrilled to tell him about the anticlimactic finale that he and I both know he didn’t really care much about, but would willingly listen to me talk about anyway because he’s sweet enough to tolerate it. Once he went off to go to the bathroom, my mom’s name showed up on my phone, but by this time, it was midnight. That didn’t make any sense to me so I picked up the phone hesitantly and I heard my mom weeping on the other end. I couldn’t understand what she was trying to say and I couldn’t make out any words because she could barely get them out herself. At this point I’m in full panic mode as my brain immediately went to the worst possible reason she could be calling me this late and in such a state - something happened to her. After quite a while of me crying in a panic assuming something terrible had happened and repeatedly asking what’s wrong, she said four words that shattered my heart -

“Mimi had a stroke.”

It felt like my whole heart broke at the moment it took my mother to say those four words while trying to desperately put itself together in a state of denial. I started hyperventilating and freaking out which prompted Griffin to barge in immediately asking me what’s wrong. I didn’t know how to answer such a simple question because truthfully, so much was wrong - everything was wrong. I didn’t even know what to do as my mind clouded up with all sorts of questions that didn’t have straightforward answers. Should I pack up my stuff tonight and go straight home? How bad was the stroke? Is she still breathing and being treated by doctors? Will I ever be able to talk to her again? This is a situation I had never dealt with before.

If I’m being honest, I’ve had relatives who have passed before but Mimi was one of the most special people in my life - she was someone I knew was going to be around for not only my childhood and teenage years but my years of young adulthood. I needed her for those as a mentor and someone for me to look up to and make proud because when I was younger, she had always done so much for me. When I was growing up, she would take me out to eat every week wherever I wanted. We would watch The Price is Right in her living room and I would fondly listen to her complain about how loudly the contestants would scream. Whenever I needed to tell her something important in my life, I would call, and she would pick up in one ring. Never more than one.

My heart was so broken and I was hoping and praying that maybe it wasn’t that bad - Mimi was strong and I knew she could make it through. I told my mom that maybe I’ll just come home after my tests the next day and after I hung up the phone, I knew that was the wrong decision. I called my best friend Haley and told her what was happening. Haley grew up with me and was also relatively close to Mimi, so I felt it was good for her to know. Haley and my friend Caitlyn came over to the dorm and told me I needed to go home at that moment, insisting that I wouldn’t be able to take three tests in the mental state I was in. Caitlyn even offered to drive me the whole two and a half hours home and back but Griffin insisted he would do it for me. Caitlyn and Haley packed a bag for me, and Griffin, Haley, and I rushed home in the middle of the night. I can’t even thank my friends and my boyfriend enough for that night - I was such a wreck and they were so outstanding in those moments. I don’t know how I could ever repay them for putting me first and making sure I got home.

The next morning, my mom, Haley, and I went to the hospital. I saw some of my uncles, aunts, and my distraught papa. The nurse said only two people could go in and see her at a time. My mom took me in and it was heartbreaking seeing her the way she was. Eventually, my family made the difficult decision to unplug her life support. My mom and I stayed there the rest of the day holding her hand and telling her it would be okay, sharing anecdotes back and forth in hopes that she could hear us, relishing in the fond memories we had all shared over the years - hoping that she would feel loved and comforted in those moments. 

While I was in the hospital, I was receiving nonstop notifications that our school was shutting down because of COVID-19. Haley went back to school at the end of the week while I made the decision to stay home for a while before going up and packing. When she checked our mailbox up at campus, there were two letters - one was a letter from Mimi to me because she would send them very frequently in college. The other was a birthday card to Haley from Mimi. I am so fortunate that we were each able to get one more card from her and it felt right to have one more positive memory of her to latch on to. 

Those few days completely changed my life and not for the better. What I can tell you and with complete certainty is this - tell people how much you love them. I’ve heard people say this many times just to dismiss it knowing that I told those around me I loved them as much as the next person but now I fully understand the weight behind that very act.  Even if we’re in a world with COVID-19, masks, and social distancing, our words can hold just as much affection as a hug can - even more so now. As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m reflecting on that entire week and realizing that a successful world’s foundation is not just loving, but cherishing those around you. There’s something slightly distinct between the two. Love is that happy feeling you get towards someone or something, but cherishing is the profound ability to express that love and show appreciation for the important presence that person or those people hold in your life. There is no harm in calling a friend or a relative you love and telling them how much they mean to you. Hold onto those people that bring meaning to your life, because as I’ve learned, the world can hold such mystery in its timing.

Even with COVID-19 happening, we have lost the normalcy of society. Whenever the world returns to as much normalcy as it once had, don’t forget to not only cherish the places you love but do so with the people you love because if those four words and COVID-19 have taught me anything, both are equally as important today and every day moving forward.




Logan Swift

U Maine '23

Logan is a rising third-year student attending the University of Maine! She is a Her Campus editorial intern and the president of the Her Campus UMaine chapter. Outside of Her Campus, she loves photography, fitness, and playing some good 'ol Animal Crossing.
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