My name is Lindy Maddox Barcellona and I am a 20 something living in Charlotte, North Carolina - the Queen City.
Story published Spring 2016.
This is my story...
When I began attending East Carolina back in 2009, I had so many dreams I wanted to achieve. I wanted to edit film, I wanted to write for a fashion magazine, I wanted to be an interior designer, I wanted to move to New York City, I wanted to be a stylist, I wanted to meet the love of my life and live amongst the hustle and bustle of "the city that never sleeps" with him by my side - little did I know that God had something totally different in store for me... at least on the job front.
As my sophomore year of college approached, I switched my major from Film to Fashion Merchandising and started writing and interning with multiple different online companies at once. I even authored the first ever fashion column for The East Carolinian. By the time I graduated college, I had over 6 online internships and what I thought was a reputable resume for someone that hadn't entered the "real world" yet.
After graduation I moved home to begin my job search. I had friends, classmates, and professors wishing me luck and telling me they couldn't wait to see my name in a magazine one day. I was destined for my dreams! While I was back home, Sean, my college sweetheart, had one more year of school left. After his graduation, our plan was to move to the Big Apple and get married! I couldn't wait for it to all fall into place.
I hit the keyboard everyday, literally applied for over 200 jobs until my fingers cramped, and prayed for God to lead me in the right direction. In October of 2013 I was contacted by Teen Vogue Magazine to fly to New York City and be the assistant to the Editor in Chief. Let me repeat that... THEY contacted ME. I was shocked! I didn't try to shoot for the stars, but the stars fell into my lap. I interviewed with Teen Vogue from October until January. First in person at Conde Nast in Times Square, and two following that via Skype. I submitted writing samples, took a grammar test and waited to hear if I got the job. I was ecstatic!
In January of 2014, the week that Teen Vogue finally reached out to me to tell me they wanted to stay in contact with me for a different position, Sean found out that his dad was diagnosed with stage five kidney cancer. We were devastated. I couldn't believe the timing. I knew, without one question in my mind, that I needed to put my career search on hold while I stayed home to help support Sean, his dad, and the rest of the Barcellona family. His prognosis wasn't good, and they were giving him less than a year to survive. It spread all over his body, to his brain, his bones, his blood... you name it, it was there. It wouldn't be an easy battle. Sean moved back to CLT and took over the provider role in his household, all the while helping take care of his dad as his mental and physical state declined. I came over every single day, and did what I could to contribute to the family.
After nine months of working retail and watching Sean's father struggle against cancer, Mr. Barcellona passed away. October 8th, 2014. It was a terrible thing to watch. Sean was knocked down with depression, and I hugged him and helped him recover as much as I could.
Through prayer, healthy eating, perseverance, constant exercise, laughing as much as we could, spending every day together, and loving each other unconditionally, Sean recovered from his depression and I emerged from my slump. We were ready to get back into the game. I contacted Teen Vogue once more, letting them know that I would be flying to NYC in December for a girls trip with my mom and twin sister. They immediately responded and told me they wanted to talk to me once more and interview me for a Fashion Writing opportunity. I picked out the perfect outfit, and counted down the days until my flight.
That whole day in New York was out of a movie. My second in-person interview with Teen Vogue was in the Freedom Tower, their new office. With the Statue of Liberty sitting in the middle of the Hudson River, winking her green eyes at me and wishing me luck, I sat there shaking with nerves. Maybe this was it! Maybe my chance was finally happening!
After coming home from New York, Teen Vogue contacted me once more saying they filled the position but wanted to stay in contact with me for future roles. I could handle that! It was still great news. Now my goal was to get to New York, so I could be ready when the perfect position popped up. I kept applying to a variety of positions, and on April 1st, 2015, I was offered a job working for a Fashion PR company located on the edge of SoHo. My start date was on April 27th, and I had less than a month to find an apartment and move to the city.
Thanks to the Redeemer church board, I found the perfect, most adorable apartment in my new favorite borough, Astoria, Queens. I packed my suitcases and flew to NY to make my dreams become a reality. As I began working, I quickly came to the conclusion that PR wasn't for me. After looking around a little bit, I switched to Visual Merchandising for Brandy Melville USA. It was the best job I've ever had! I loved every minute of it. I took a ten minute subway ride on the N/Q/R and got off at Prince St. in the middle of SoHo. I designed window displays from sun up till sun down, drank too much coffee, met some great ladies, and watched the sunset in Astoria Park almost every day.
At the end of May while I was in New York, Sean was at home looking for jobs up near me. His mom was still struggling with losing the love of her life, so we didn't want her to be left alone without any time to cope. She was having a really hard time, and it was blatantly apparent to all of us. One night while I was folding some laundry, Sean called me to tell me he was worried about his mom. She was really struggling and he said her symptoms looked eerily similar to his dads. She had lost a lot of weight, wasn't leaving the house, and barely moved anymore. He thought she might be sick, and he was starting to have anxiety about her wellbeing. I told him he was crazy. There was no way his mom would be sick too! What are the chances of that. She was just depressed. There was nothing to worry about, God is in control, and soon she'll be feeling better and we'll be married and living in New York together.
On June 19th, 2015 Mrs. Barcellona was diagnosed with Stage Four ovarian cancer. Can you believe it? Both of his parents diagnosed with cancer within 9 months of each other. How could this happen? It felt like a nightmare. Just like with his dad, her prognosis was bad. Stage Four ovarian cancer only had a 5% survival rate for less than a year. We buckled our seatbelt and settled in for the worst form of dejavu.
At that point, the choice, once again, was clear. My lease was ending in August and Sean needed me. He is the only child to both of his parents, and soon I knew he would be left with no one. I cried every day. I prayed my heart out, asking God for a sign. Show me to where to go. Show me how to give up my dreams, knowing that I will be receiving grace and reassurance. I needed Him to give me strength. I needed Him to give Sean and I strength to make it through this together.
HE did it.
God did it! God made it possible for me! God made it possible for us. It wasn't easy. It was nearly impossible, but before you know it, it happened. God helped me have the ability to pack up my room. He helped me resign from my dream career. He helped me wave goodbye to SoHo on my last ride home on the N/Q/R. He helped me make the biggest sacrifice of my life by becoming more like Him. Love is sacrificial. God made the ultimate sacrifice, and through my trials I was mirroring His image. I wouldn't have chosen to stay. I knew what I needed... what Sean needed.
On July 20th, 2015, exactly one month later, Sean's mom passed away. I was in town to attend my grandmothers funeral, she had passed away from ALS, and ironically during that same week, Sean's mom was admitted to the ICU for stomach pain. She had emergency surgery, and on the same day as my grandmothers funeral, she died. It all felt like a nightmare. That night I slept at Sean's house to keep him company. It felt empty. Void of people, but full of so many memories. We hugged, we cried. We thought about our future. About the giant pieces that were missing, about the life moments they wouldn't witness... and about the joy that would hopefully resurface soon.
Fast forward two months later, and I'm back in Charlotte. Sean and I are trying to stitch our life back together piece by piece. I was living at home with my parents, and Sean was living at his parents house. On September 18th, 2015 Sean got down on one knee in the middle of the backyard at his childhood home. He told me he wanted one more happy memory there before we had to sell it. Tears were in my eyes and I laughed hysterically. How could happiness be real after we faced so much tragedy. The stone was covered in candles and we clinked full champagne glasses together - cheers to a new beginning, a new future, and new found happiness.
From September until March 12th, 2016 I planned our dream wedding. Shimmery bridesmaid dresses, peppermint chocolate wedding cake, twinkle lights hanging over the ceremony and bouquets full of round white buds. It was the most perfect day. The sun shone from dawn till dusk and we danced the night away with our closest friends and family. I couldn't have asked for a more ideal way to begin our "new beginning." We honeymooned on the sandy beaches of Cancun and unpacked my bags in our South End apartment, where we now live with our two cuddly pups, Cubbie and Tucker. We have endured so much, but we've made the most of the journey. Married life is treating us well and we have so much to look forward to! There's much more to come!
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance and endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." Romans 5:3-4