Fear. It’s something we all struggle with to some extent every day. The fear of the unknown. Fear of lingering tragedy. Fear of disappointment. Even fear of reality.

My heart has been so heavy these past few days. So many of my nearest and dearest are struggling mightily with really big things. Some are struggling with their health or the health of a loved one. Others are navigating through depression. Some are watching a loved one die before their eyes after a battle with cancer. And tomorrow night I will attend a celebration of life for a beautiful soul who left this earth way too soon.

I feel the weight of all of it. It has always been the hardest for me to see those around me in pain. I can handle it when I’m hurting. I at least have some control over the way I respond to a tragedy in my own life. But when I see someone I care about in pain I just want to fix it and so often that just isn’t possible.

With all the pain and tragedy taking place around me it has me reflecting on fear and what it does to each of us. Some fear is healthy. Fear can keep us from getting hurt. And sometimes fear is a good reminder of what’s really important to us.

But fear can also be a hinderance. The fear of stepping into what’s unfamiliar can be terrifying. The fear of getting hurt can keep you from experiencing something beautiful. The fear of tragedy can break you.

I have lived through way too many tragedies in my short 30 years on this earth. I have had several of my worst fears come true and I grapple with PTSD every day because of it. It would be so easy to run. It would be understandable if I refused to really live my life out of fear of what else could go wrong. I have lived out the worst case scenario on more than one occasion.

But the tragedy in my life has also taught me that the real beauty happens when you step into what’s uncomfortable. When you see fear and embrace it you are able to really live. Sometimes the worst happens. I have learned in the hardest way that we aren’t guaranteed time with anyone. It doesn’t matter whether that person is your child, your parents, your spouse or a dear friend. Life is so short. Don’t wait. Make each and every day count. Tell your friends, family and loved ones that you care. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer research in memory of Olivia Caldwell, who passed away from brain cancer at 20 months old in October 2013. To date we have given $155,000 to pediatric cancer research. You can learn more and donate by visiting www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org.

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