It's been a little less than a month since Samantha Allen, (Zach's cousin) left this world after an extremely difficult fight with cancer.
However, our world, though a little less luminous, still continues to somehow, magically, turn. In some weird, twisted way, life continues to go on, despite the sadness faced by much of her friends and family on a daily basis.
One of the many things Samantha taught me (and thousands of others-- check out the Facebook group and see for yourself) was the power of gratitude within every moment. Even in her darkest days, Samantha still, despite all odds whatsoever, persevered and set her "gratitude alarm" every night for 8PM. Even when she was sick, she still had the strength and power to be grateful and never took anything for granted.
In her honor, for a little over a month, Zach and I have been following in Samantha's footsteps and have set our own gratitude alarm for 8:00 every night. The alarm helped me to take control of the day that had just passed and allowed me to transform my mindset to a positive one. Immediately, I felt empowered-- something I had struggled with for so long, until I met Zach and his wonderful family.
It was, to say the least, motivating. Despite days full of exams or weeks drowning in papers or even ignorant social media posts or comments (which were all nothing compared to what Sami was going through, for obvious reasons), setting time apart each night to think of one thing I was grateful for that day provided me with a sense of relief, optimism, and comfort that everything would be okay. Doing it with Zach brought us even closer (despite the 300 miles apart) and made me feel as secure in my relationship as ever.
Scheduling the gratitude alarm into our nightly routines was the best thing I've done for my mental heath in a while and I can't begin to explain the benefits of it. The most rewarding part of it, though, is that many of the 2,000+ followers of Sami's Facebook group are also doing it and spreading it along to their friends and family, just as I am with mine. There truly is no better feeling in the world than getting several sorority sisters and people across the country--even the world-- to get together to state what they're grateful for. I find comfort in knowing that I am representing a tiny part of what Sami lived by while on this planet.
Samantha was, without a doubt, the strongest human I will ever know and love. Through my short time of knowing her, she has provided me with nothing but love, gratitude, and endless memories, which Zach and I will laugh at and cherish for years to come.
I am privileged to take a break from whatever homework or article I'm working on and reflect on the day, and I am just one of thousands of individuals dedicated to living as freely and as kind-hearted as Samantha. I couldn't be prouder. And as I lounge around my sorority house in the cozy fuzzy slippers she surprised me with to "initiate" me into the family, I couldn't be more grateful for her. <3
Note: I highly suggest watching Samantha's big brother Ari's eulogy which describes how grateful Sami was to live her life. It's heartfelt, beautiful, and the most touching and beautifully raw tribute to her soul.
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