When I was seventeen, my oldest sister passed away. Life as I had always known it was gone forever. She had been the focus in my life for the past nine years.
Suddenly my family went back to life as normal. I didn’t really have a “normal”. My sister and her husband had bought a home and were raising their family. My Mom and Dad began to travel and enjoy each other’s company. I wasn’t sure where I fit in.
I’ve always had a problem making decisions. I was the youngest. My sisters told me what to do next. My parents told me what I would do each day. Suddenly, it was my turn to decide for myself what was next and I had no idea what to do.
College has been my goal for most of my life. At this time, it seemed very far away and impossible. University of Wisconsin, Madison was where I thought I would go but now for the logistics.
Where would I get the money? What would I major in? Where would I live? Looking back these all look like easily solvable problems and yet, at the time, they had me overwhelmed. There were way more questions in my life and not very many answers.
I felt all alone. My parents hadn’t gone to college. My sister found her profession with a paralegal degree which was the next step in her legal secretary path. I graduated in the top five of my graduating class of two hundred ninety-five people. I took all the college prep classes, in other words, nothing practical.
I was in a quandary.
At the same time, there was a guy I had started dating. He wanted to go to the next level. I wasn’t sure that he was the one and at the same time, the idea of getting married and having the kind of relationship my parents and my sister and brother-in-law had, looked very tempting. I thought, of course, when you got married everything was wonderful. RIGHT! My future husband promised my dad that he would make sure that I would go on to college. (He forgot to tell my dad that he had no money!)
About ten days before the wedding, my sister came to me. She was very concerned and said she couldn’t shake the feeling that this was not the right decision for me to make. She urged me to call off the wedding and reconsider going to college. I was horrified at the thought. Our family was always very concerned with doing the right and proper thing. What would people think if at this late date, I canceled the wedding? The church was reserved, the reception planned, the dress purchased, many of the gifts received and the thought of canceling now seemed totally out of the question.
Going through with the wedding solved my immediate dilemma of making all the difficult decisions to make going to college possible. All I needed to do was to decide to marry the young man and live happily ever after. Simple right?