Isn’t it strange that we don’t truly realize just how much we love someone until they’re no longer with us? We have all this time on earth to show them that we love them while they’re here. But, in a moment, a blink, a breath, they’re gone. And we’re left wondering, did they know? Like REALLY know?
Nothing frightens me more than this unsettling thought. I’ve known loss in a personal way and because of that, I wake up each day to the reminder of just how short life is.
My sister died from metastatic breast cancer nine months ago. And this beautiful fall month of October brings with it bittersweet memories as I am faced with the signs and slogans of breast cancer awareness facts staring me in the face everywhere I go.
Don’t get me wrong, these campaigns are good and necessary. But, if I’m being really honest, they make life a little bit harder, too. I just don’t want to be reminded that she’s gone. I mean, it’s not like I could forget anyway.
I’m signed up to run in a 5k for breast cancer research at the end of this month. I’ve got the pink t-shirt, bandanna, and glittery socks. But, truth be told, I’d rather have my sister.
I’d rather not feel an ache in my heart every time I see a tweet of a bald Shannen Doherty fighting her own breast cancer battle. My sister also fought hard and well. And I won’t ever forget the way she looked in all of her bald-headed glory. BEAUTIFUL. (Just like you, Shannen.)
I’d rather not cry mountains of tears over the stories I hear of the countless moms, sisters, daughters, and friends who’ve lost their battle with breast cancer and left us all behind. My sister also left us all behind. And each heartbreaking story is just one more reminder that she is not around anymore for me to hug tight.
But what I’d rather not do has no bearing on reality. Life comes and goes. For us all. We have to learn to live with loss because ultimately we will all go through it. In fact, you will probably know at least one woman who becomes diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in your life.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation says, “One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.” That’s like one gal in your mama tribe or one neighbor in your running club. One in eight means that every single one of us is already or will be eventually affected by this monster of a disease.
So ignoring the signs and slogans can’t be an option. We must be vigilant in this fight. No one knows what each day will hold. But I can promise you this: I will do my part. I will not let my sadness keep me from talking about this very real foe called breast cancer. I will not let my pain keep me from telling you to get your yearly mammogram (or getting mine as well).
If I listen to the voice of grief, I will miss out on the living part of life. I’m pretty sure my sister wouldn’t want that. I can hear her now telling me to put on my big girl panties and get over it cause there’s a whole lot of women out there who need to be reminded of what they’re fighting for. WHO they’re fighting for.
So, sis, I’m putting on those panties right now. And just so you know, they’re pink.
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