Letter home: Don’t take time with parents for granted


Trishna Chandarana, Class of 2013

They say your college years are your most formative. As this is often the first time any of us has ever been away from the comfort of our childhood homes for more than a long weekend, we often take this time to navigate through phases of being homesick, letting loose, and trying to find ourselves in this mess we called life. However, we often forget something crucial as we go about our lives. We forget that the very thing that we strive to define for ourselves — life — is so very fragile. We forget that and by doing so we take the time we have with our loved ones for granted.

I spent the majority of my college career thus far assuming I would have at least 20 more years with both of my parents. I assumed I would be able to discuss possible Ph.D. programs with them and always come to them when I needed advice. I assumed I would get to legally drink alcohol in front of my mom and experience the satisfaction of her not being able to get mad at me. The mistake I made was that I assumed I had more time.

I never thought the last time I would see my mom laughing or walking around would be right before I began the spring semester of my junior year. I never thought the last time I would talk to her would be on an international phone call because I had decided to spend spring break traipsing around Europe to visit some friends I’d met two years ago instead of going home to spend the time with my family. I never thought the last time I would see her even remotely conscious would be mere hours before they sedated and paralyzed her on what would become her deathbed. I, like so many of us, believed there was still so much time left. I never thought my mom would die 10 days before my 21st birthday.

My mother will not see me graduate from college; she will not be able to meet and sufficiently vet my first boyfriend; she will not be there to celebrate my first real job nor will she be there to help me plan my wedding.

I can honestly say no one in my family thought we would leave that hospital without her. Even three years ago when we found out she had stage 4 cancer, we didn’t truly believe we would lose her. My mom was a fighter; she never gave in and she never gave up. Even then, it wasn’t enough.

We need to stop assuming we have more time than the present because, as cliché as it sounds, we can lose it all in an instant.

For the first time in three years I truly regret not trying harder to get into UC Berkeley, for not fighting harder to stay close to home all because I wanted to “have some freedom to be ‘independent.’”

As young adults, we often fight our parents, believing they don’t understand us, that they just want to control us. Unfortunately, though they may not be perfect, our parents often know all too well what we’re going through and how we feel more often than we may think. They may not be able to communicate it well — the language may have changed since they last tried to define who they are, the specifics a little hazy with all the years that they’ve spent learning to be responsible and how to be a parent since then, but they know a lot more than you may think.

My advice to you is simple and something that I believe in the core of my very being: don’t forget your parents while you’re out there in the big bad world trying to find yourself. As run of the mill as this sounds, it is probably the best advice I can give you after having spent three years at an amazing engineering-based school in the heart of Atlanta and an entire semester in the middle of South Korea. So take heed, restless seniors. I know you are the most anxious to flee the nest, but don’t turn your back on your parents the moment you smell freedom.