I’ve heard that sophomore year is supposed to be one of your hardest years academically, but when I think of the difficulties of this year, school is one of the last things that came to mind. Ask any one of my sisters in Chi Omega, and they will tell you that I’ve basically been through hell and back this semester. On Thursday, March 31, my mother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. But I didn’t write this article to make anyone feel sorry for me. Even though those surrounding weeks have been the worst of my entire life, they have really opened my eyes to a lot of things.
It’s safe to say that the Greek community has been under a lot of scrutiny lately, and I was beginning to lose sight of why I even joined a sorority in the first place. It seemed like people were mostly concerned about partying (getting in trouble for partying), gossiping and all of the other day-to-day concerns that seem so distant to me now. It wasn’t until my mother’s calling and the funeral itself that my faith was completely restored in the Greek system.
I hardly told anyone in Chi Omega, let alone other houses at Purdue, about my mother’s passing (simply because I was such an emotional wreck), so I was hardly expecting what awaited me at her calling. I was overwhelmed when I walked into the funeral home to see so many bouquets and vases of flowers decorating the room. As I took a moment to walk around and examine them all, I was shocked to see that a good amount of them were for me! I couldn’t believe that so many Greek houses from Purdue had taken the time to express their condolences during such a difficult time for me. It brought tears to my eyes when I realized that my entire pledge class, and even a few people from other houses on campus, came down from Purdue to be with me during the calling. I knew they didn’t have to come, but they did, and it meant so much to me.
I also felt so blessed by all of the text messages, tweets, wall posts and Facebook messages that people were sending me offering their sympathy as well as a shoulder to cry on and someone to talk to. I was so touched that people from so many different fraternities and sororities were offering comforting words on behalf of their houses.
During my mother’s funeral on Monday, April 4, my entire family was literally amazed by how many of my sisters came down from Purdue. My entire pledge class, plus the majority of the freshmen, junior and senior pledge classes were there to support me. Once again, I knew that none of them had to come (some of them may have even missed classes), but they did. And when I thought about it, I realized that I would have done the same for each and every one of them. The large amount of Chi Omegas present brought tears to my dad’s eyes (being a fraternity man himself), and even made my older sister (who is a senior in Pi Beta Phi at the University of Central Florida) jealous because I had all of my “sisters” there. My grandpa even commented on how he’d never seen so many beautiful girls in one place. I simply smiled and replied, “Those are my sisters.”
While I know that my family is always there to support me, I find comfort in knowing that I have the entire Greek community to turn to as well. It makes me realize that yes, I did join a sorority partly because of the social aspect, but I really joined because of the way my father and my sister boasted about all of the amazing friends they made while they were in a Greek house. One of my dad’s pledge brothers from Kansas (who was also the best man in my parents’ wedding) even made the drive to be with him during such a painful time. And my sister’s best friends from her sorority in Florida hopped on a plane to come to Indiana to be with her. This time has made me realize that being in a house isn’t just about the parties. It’s about making friends with people who are probably going to be in your wedding, and who are going to be there when you need them most.
I just want all of you to take this time to remember why you went Greek in the first place. Sure, people may argue that we “pay for our friends,” but if I simply “paid” for a group of superficial friends, then no one would have showed up for my mother’s funeral. No one would have sent flowers. And I certainly wouldn’t have what feels like a million people calling me every day just to make sure I’m OK. I know my mother would be so proud of me for being a part of something as great as our Greek system here at Purdue.
Basically I think what I’m trying to say is to never take anything for granted, because you’ll never know when it will be taken from you. Keep your brothers and sisters close because when your family isn’t there to support you, they’ll be the ones you can turn to.
Claire File is a Chi Omega from Purdue University. She is a junior studying retail management. You may contact her at email@example.com.
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