Mar 28, 2016

Life Stories: Rachel AiLin

I met Rachel a few years ago at a photo shooting I did for her family. Last year I saw on facebook that her Dad had passed away. After reading the comments on her post I decided to invite Rachel to share her story.

Rachel (21) grew up in Winnipeg. Her childhood had the regular ups and downs of any family. Then, three years ago Rachael’s life changed when she learned that her Dad had been diagnosed with Cancer. “It was the year after I graduated. I was driving to work,” she remembers. “My Dad called me from the hospital. He told me he had been diagnosed with cancer.” She could not respond to that because she was in shock. Nothing was regular any more. “But my dad was so positive about it. He believed he would be healed. His positivity made it easier for me.” Her life changed from that moment on. “Suddenly I had a lot more things to worry about. Things were more stressful. I spent a lot of time helping him do his daily things. I was his main care giver. It was a huge responsibility. Yet I wish I would have spent more time with him.” Life changed for the whole family as they stuck together through this battle. “We went on more family trips. I guess we wanted to make sure we had time to do these things together.” And even when nothing was “regular” for Rachel anymore, she lived hopeful. “At first, I never accepted it.It wasn’t something that I wanted to deal with. So I pushed it away. It didn’t become real until he was gone.”

The day her dad passed away Rachel was invited to a wedding. “We had brought him to the hospital. It was hard on everyone. I wasn’t sure if I should go. He kept saying he’d be fine. So I went. While I was at the wedding my mom called to let me know that he had passed away.” While celebrating her friends new beginning Rachel was again pulled out of her surrounding and went into shock. “I didn't say anything. I didn't feel anything. Only later did it hit me really hard.” I asked Rachel how losing her dad changed her. “My Dad was the most caring person I’ve ever known. He was my best friend. I never realized how my dad was always giving me confidence. Not having that around, changed the way I thought about myself and what I thought about my worth.” The last memory she has of her Dad is when she visited him in the hospital. “There were lots of friends and family visiting. I was sitting next to him on his bed, and suddenly he just looked at me and said, ‘You are so beautiful.’ and that none of the people who visited him made him as happy as me.”

Her closest friends and her younger brother helped her through this time the most. I asked her what she would like to say to those who still have both parents. She said its important to spend time with them. “They are the ones that will be there if you need them. Sometimes we don’t want to spend time with them because they are our parents. But, in the end, they’re usually the ones who will be there for you and will actually really care about you.” Rachel told me that a year ago she wouldn’t have been able to share her story. It takes a lot of courage speak up and share your struggles with others. Rachael was unfaltering and positive even when talking about her deepest pain. The last year she grew stronger. She is currently working as a health care aid. During our interview I learned that the coming day would be the anniversary of her Dad’s death. Today I got to finish the interview and get it ready to post, and I sent Rachel the final copy. I learned that tomorrow would be her Dad’s birthday. Both events were not intentionally so close to these dates and were entirely coincidental. This gives me the feeling that everything has its own time. Thank you Rachel for having the courage to share your story. 

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 ESV 

~ You are more than what you see ~