People always like to ask me why I travel.
I travel for a lot of reasons.
To expand my knowledge.
To experience new cultures. New foods. New landscapes.
To grow as a human being.
To meet new people.
The list could go on and on.
But, the real reason I travel is… because of my mom.
March 24, 2009 forever changed my life. It was the day that my mother died of a horrific and rare disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). She was only 52 years old. She still had so many years to live.
CJD is an extremely rare, about 1 in a million, degenerative brain disorder. There is no cure. Her type, sporadic CJD, happens just because. She was diagnosed in mid-January and died shortly after my 22nd birthday.
There is a reason that Billy Joel once sang “only the good die young.” It’s true. The good people die young. It’s something I’ll never understand. Why does cancer take young children with a lifetime of hopes, wishes, and futures? Why do parents of three young children have to die in car crashes? What about the thousands that have been killed by war? Terrorist attacks?
It’s not far. Life is not fair.
There are no guarantees in life. My mother’s death taught me that. There are so many things that she still wanted to do, but never got the chance.
I don’t want the last thing to flash before my eyes on my deathbed to be a laundry list of regrets.
I want to see the world.
I want to learn new languages. Or at least attempt to butch most of them.
I want to hike the tallest mountains and look down in awe of Mother Nature’s beauty.
Most of all – I want to truly live my life.
From a young age I was fascinated with travel. I dreamed of seeing lions in Africa. Trekking to the top of Machu Picchu. Eating crepes in front of the Eiffel Tower. Diving the Great Barrier Reef.
The list could go on.
Like every American, I also wanted the American Dream. That white picket fence. 2.5 Kids. And a job I hated for 40 years.
Or so I thought.
My parents kept saying they would travel once they retired. So many Americans say that. Some do. Some don’t.
My mother never got the chance to retire. Or to travel.
Life is short.
I said screw the American Dream and travel now. I might not get a chance tomorrow.
You’re not guaranteed a tomorrow.
Follow your passions. Live for today. And hope for tomorrow.
I travel for my mother.
So this one is for you mom. The one who showed me that anything is possible. You taught me to be strong. To be proud. And most importantly… to follow my dreams. It has been 7 years, but not a day goes by that I don’t think of you. I love you.
Until we meet again.