“At My Worst”
I got the call when I was sitting at an outdated black laminate desk at work, when I was barely old enough to sit at one for a living. My mom wanted to know if I could stop home after I left the office. She didn’t let on that anything was wrong, but I could hear the undercurrent of fear in her voice. I pressed her – not wanting to spend hours with a mind echoing worry – and she put my father on the phone.
“They found a tumor.”
As the tears dropped down my face, and my heart fell to the floor, I could feel every hurt or issue I thought I had with my dad fall away. It was like a veil lifted. I remember that moment feeling like 10 years of therapy in a second. That was the sobering side effect of looking mortality in the eye of the first time, and looking back, the first blessing that came from the pain.
As the days wore on, more details were drawn. It was malignant. It was too big to operate. It was in his liver. He had six months to a year to live, a year and a half if he was lucky.
I felt like I was living in a dream I couldn’t wake up from. Everything felt so surreal. Just a few years out of college, my life went from worried about what I was doing on the weekend to worried about what I would do without my father.
This is the moment that I began to learn that when we are broken, we are broken open… and God showed me what I had laying dormant inside. As fear threatened to collapse the walls around us, my spirit wouldn’t cave in. I was determined to find second opinions and would not give up. I knew that if my worst fear came to pass, the only way I could find peace was if I knew I did everything I could. So that’s what I did. I researched. I asked doctors questions, to the extent that I was mistaken for a doctor. When we were assigned doctors through our health insurance that were not competent, we filed appeals to get covered out of network. When doctors would set limits, I would defy and challenge them. I was an advocate. I was a caretaker. And then we finally found a doctor that believed my dad had a chance and he began treatment.
After the first round of chemoembolization, our doctor told us that the numbers didn’t look good, but that they were willing to do another round of treatment if my dad wanted. Even in a body weakened and ravaged by chemo, my dad literally jumped at the chance, ready to do the treatment that very second. This is the moment I learned that it’s not the cards you are given, it’s how you play your hand. We still had cards left to play, so we were not folding.
We tried acupuncture. I prayed to St. Jude. I visualized him walking me down the aisle every night before I went to sleep. I thanked God for his survival like it had already happened. And the treatments started to work. The tumor was finally small enough to perform surgery. We had been told that we were lucky if my dad had a year and a half left, and in a year and a half later, he was miraculously healed.
The road post-surgery was long and complicated, but he made a full recovery. While incredibly thankful and feeling like I had just experienced a miracle, I was also confused to find myself feeling depressed. This was the moment that I realized that when it comes to the rawest, realest, and deepest of emotions, you can never predict how you are going to feel. After an intense, prolonged period of focus and devotion, my life now felt purposeless. I couldn’t go back to the way things were before. I had changed.
This was the moment I realized that life was too short not to do what you really wanted to… and if I was really honest with myself, I really wanted to do music. I had been working in the music industry behind-the-scenes, thinking it could make me happy, but what my heart really wanted was to be an artist. I had tried once before, but debilitating stage fright mistakenly made me believe that if I was this scared, it must not be what I was meant to do.
I have since learned that this kind of fear is an arrow pointing you where you are meant to go. This was the moment I learned that if I could face one of the biggest fears in my life – the fear of losing my father – I could face an audience. This was the moment where I took all of the energy I used to save my dad’s life, and tried to save my own. I think that’s how you know if you’re an artist - if it gives your life meaning, if it fills you with purpose. It took my dad almost losing his life for me the find the purpose in mine; for me to feel like I was finally and truly living.
Rosalie is a deep pop singer/songwriter based in Nashville whose music combines the melodies of pop, the vulnerability of folk, the adventurous soundscape of EDM, and the craft found in Nashville songwriting. You can follow her story at @rosaliesongs or www.rosaliesongs.com