There comes a point in everyone's life where they realize everything happens for a reason. Although we can't understand why and how during a circumstance, we're told, "everything happens for a reason." I used to hate when anyone said this to me when something unexpected happened in my life. How do you know there's a reason? How do you know I'll be okay? How do you know I'll be able to pick myself back up?
Growing up, I've always felt an enormous amount of love. I have lived near family my whole life and have experienced true belonging and unconditional love. I have been extremely sheltered and have never had the need for a social life outside my family and friends. In high school, I became certified nursing assistant and shadowed nurses. I solidified my path in nursing when I applied to only direct nursing programs. As a senior in high school, I knew that I needed to step out of my bubble and sheltered lifestyle. I chose Loyola University Chicago because it was the cheapest direct nursing program I got into and I had a soft spot for Chicago because that's where my parents were raised. I came to college as an excited freshman ready to take on the world. Needless to say, my freshman year was a disaster. I felt as though every college student either got drunk or studied and there was no in between. I was the "in between." I enjoyed playing board games over the weekend and exploring the city during the week. After my freshman year, I was ready to transfer. I thought that maybe my bubble was better than the outside world who had different values than me. I wasn't able to transfer because nursing programs were very strict about my credits. My freshman year, I applied to be a resident assistant and received the position. This was the only reason I had hope going back to Loyola for my sophomore year. That year turned out to be the best college experience for me. I was surrounded by people who challenged and supported me. I was given a role to make others feel at home and give them the tools necessary to succeed at Loyola as a freshman. I met my "person" (Greys Anatomy reference) on my staff and we became inseparable. She taught me the value of friendship and being okay with differences. I found my niche and became happy to call my Loyola my home. As my sophomore year ended, I was excited and ready to start my junior year as an RA. And then...
In October, I came home to Virginia for fall break. My "person" joined me to meet my family and experience my lifestyle outside of college. A few days into the break, my dad told me I had to go to get an ultrasound for my throat. I had been experiencing thyroid issues since I was young but it had never been anything serious so my doctors always pushed it to the side. On October 6th, 2015 I was in lying down with a needle in my throat and the doctor said they found nodules and I was told that I may or may not have cancer. My parents were in the room and when the doctor’s left, I said, "there's a 50% chance I have cancer but like honestly there's no way I have cancer." 5 minutes later, 3 doctors walked in and I knew. I felt my stomach drop. "You have papillary thyroid cancer, but don't worry, you'll be okay." OKAY? Okay? Okay... I was a junior in college and it felt that my world just collapsed right in front of me. I went home and my extended family came to my house and we all just cried. The doctors said if I were to get any kind of cancer, thyroid is the best one because it's completely treatable. Somehow, that didn't give me much reassurance because I knew I had to move back home and leave my life at Loyola. A life that I was not ready to leave.
A few weeks after I found I had cancer, I went back to Loyola to pack up my life and start my journey at home. I had doctor appointment after doctor appointment. I got a job as a medical assistant to keep busy. I was in shock, I couldn't believe that this was my life. I finally made Loyola my home and it just got snatched from me. Somehow, with the values I have been raised with, I wasn't mad. I wasn't angry. I was just sad. A month later, a friend of mine texted me at 3am on a random Wednesday saying a guy from Ohio is going to text me tomorrow and that I should be excited. She met him through her boyfriend who happened to be best friends with him growing up. I just found out about cancer so talking to a random guy wasn't really on my to-do list, however, I thought why not. Rajan entered my life on November 19th. The second day we talked, I decided, to be honest and tell him the truth about my situation and why I moved back home. He empathetically said, "I'm happy you're going to be okay." It was definitely awkward talking to a stranger in the beginning but the more we talked, the more we became comfortable with each other. We began to text all day and the day before my surgery; we spoke on the phone for the first time. On December 2, I got my thyroid removed and became cancer free. After that, he was there for every step of my recovery. The more we talked, the more we realized how much we liked each other and decided to meet. On December 22nd, we met half way in Pittsburgh. I've always had people say, "when you know, you know" but never believed it or thought that was possible. Well, it's true. We spend 6 hours together and we knew that this was it for us. We spend the next few months meeting each other's families and I got engaged to the love of my life on April 2, 2016. After that, we've traveled to Disney world, North Carolina, Arizona, Chicago and have been enjoying every second with each other and our families.
On August 26,2016 the love of my life officially asked me to marry him. Although we committed to each other in the Indian tradition, he wanted to also uphold the American tradition of proposing. What I thought was a night out with my "person" turned out to be the most magical night of my life. Walking into a gondola on the Ferris wheel in navy pier filled with pictures, lights, flowers, and a beautiful ring made me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Every detail was thought out, the colors, music, location and all the people made it the perfect fairytale proposal. I was expecting a proposal, however, when Rajan got down on one knee and told me to look outside and I saw both of our families holding a huge sign saying "say yes" I couldn't control my tears. My life seemed like a fairytale and all I felt was love.
So when they said everything happens for a reason, they were right. Now, whenever something unexpected happens in my life, I look forward to finding out why.