Ten years ago, I was left with the most morbid memory of my induction into becoming an adult: I sat with my father and one of the employees of the funeral home that we were at in Chicago. The employee was working me through paperwork for my mother’s funeral service. I was still left in shock, trying to recollect the last days that I talked to her at the hospital as she was fighting her last battle with lung cancer. As I signed line after line, those thoughts soon became, “What does life have in store for me now?”
Fast-forward to ten years later, I sit here at the research office, staring blankly at my laptop screen. I never thought that I’d be here, working on trying to detect patients at risk of lung cancer through their medical records through NLP software. Though I can’t turn back time for my mother, I know I can still make an impact in the lives of others through this project.
2014 was definitely one of those years with a lot of reminiscence for me. It was hard for me to admit that my mother had been gone for ten years. Ultimately, those events in Chicago changed my outlook on how I viewed life and also where I am now.
As I looked back on this year, I never would have expected to be where I am now if I were myself ten years ago. I remember telling myself throughout college, “You’re not going to be a programmer or a developer. You’re going to be a doctor. You’re going to be saving lives, not sitting in front of a computer.” But things changed in ten years, but in no way am I discontent with the outcome. I never expected it all to come full circle to the point where I’m working on a project involving lung cancer.
But those events ten years ago were more than just about a career. It reminded me that I needed to keep those around me close as I could. Because one day they may be around, the next day they could be gone. I was left with a terrible reminder of this when I found out that a friend had passed away due to a collapsed heart at the age of 28 on the same weekend as my mother’s passing. It left all of us that knew him in shock, since there was no warning, rhyme or reason for why this happened. And why him of all people? A guy with a loving heart for those around him. A guy that was willing to try new things. A guy that gave his 100% whenever he did something. It made us all remember that life is short. Make the most of it and leave an impact on the hearts of those around you.
2014 brought opportunities as well, with this job being one of them. For some reason, a lot of them were sports-related. In the years that Thierry Henry was in the MLS, I never actually had the chance to see him play in either Seattle or Portland, mainly because of money or because I was in grad school. I wanted to see him at some point, dating back to the days he played for Arsenal. In August, I managed to get the opportunity to watch him in the MLS All-Star Game against Bayern Munich. It turned out it would be the first and last time I’d ever see him play in person, but it was an amazing opportunity to see him pull off his magic. Other opportunities such as being able to talk on a weekly podcast about MLS teams in the Cascadia region and getting to be part of a soccer league board were definitely memorable this past year. Getting to see the Blazers on TV or in person this past year grow and mature was also amazing. Moments like Lillard’s game winning three in Game 6 against Houston or LA’s maturation into one of the best power forwards of the game was a lot of fun.
If I could sum 2014 all up into one sentence, it’d have to be “When opportunity knocks, answer it.” Whether it be spending time with family, being able to hang out with friends when they need you, or something else, it was just about taking advantage of those opportunities. Because life is short. Make the most of the opportunities with those around you. Appreciate and love those around you like family.
Goodbye 2014. Thanks for the reminders and memories.
Oh, and did I mention Arsenal finally won a trophy? We actually got silverware.