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I ate scrambled eggs for breakfast every morning for more months than I can count after my mom died.

My oldest sister graduated from high school just a couple of weeks after we buried our mom. By then she had already taken over the role of taking care of me, the youngest of three daughters. My grandmother, my dad’s mom, still lived several states away although she would soon pack her bags and move in with us for a while. Those in-between months were impossibly hard for all of us, but my sister rose to the challenge in a huge way.

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It’s been over four decades since I had scrambled eggs every morning. At the time, I wished for an occasional pop tart or bowl of cereal. I’m guessing I didn’t share any words of gratitude very often, if at all. I was probably annoyed to tell you the truth.

I have a much better understanding now.

My sister only knew how to cook a few things, but she was determined to take care of me. So she made me what she could. I think 12-year-old me probably complained more than once. I don’t ever remember her getting mad at me about it though. Nope, she just continued to get up morning after morning instead of sleeping in. And my sister had been a world-class morning sleeper up to this point. She chose me over sleep. I like to sleep in, too, so I understand what a sacrifice this was for her. She not only fixed those scrambled eggs, she went to the store to buy them and cleaned up my mess when I left the table. Every day. For months and months.

This was the summer she should have been having fun with friends, making plans for college, doing pretty much anything except all she did for me.

RELATED: Life without My Mother

A few years ago my sister sent me a text. She apologized for not doing more for me back then. For not being there for me. How could she not know that I still think about those scrambled eggs all the time?

It’s the time of year when we hear a lot about breast cancer. I agree we should be aware of it. I could quote a lot of good information about awareness, but I have knowledge from a different angle that needs to be shared, too.

When our mom died after a long battle with breast cancer, my sisters and I were in unimaginable pain. There was a lot we didn’t understand, and none of us were ready for what our life had turned into. Quickly. Everything just changed so quickly. I don’t think any of us were prepared for that.

RELATED: To the Friend Who Just Lost a Parent: You’ll Never Get Over This, But You Will Get Through It

But my sister rose to the challenge. She stopped being a carefree teenager as she took over the role of mother for our household. She did it without saying a word. She did it by pulling out our mom’s bowl, cracking some eggs in it to whip up before cooking them in our mom’s pan, and then serving breakfast to her family. She taught me how to put ketchup on my eggs that year, but she also taught me a whole lot more.

My sister was grieving as much as I was back then. She could have dealt with it a number of ways.

She chose to grieve by honoring our mother. One of the ways she did this was by making those scrambled eggs.

Nowadays, my children like to joke that I don’t make good scrambled eggs. I’m kind of glad I don’t. I make great French toast and my pancakes aren’t too bad either, but scrambled eggs were never mine to make.

I’m thankful for the sacrifice my sister made so many years ago. I’d like to think I would have done the same. I’m just not sure. I might have taken the easy way out, tossing a box of cereal on the table. My sister did a lot more than fill my stomach with a hot breakfast back then. She warmed my heart when it felt like it had been ripped out of my chest. She helped keep my mom alive for me a little bit longer. How do you thank someone for that?

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Sandy Brannan

Sandy Brannan, author of Becoming Invisible, So Much Stays Hidden, Masquerade, and Frozen in Time, is a high school English teacher. Creating memories with her grandchildren is her idea of a perfect day. You can follow Sandy and read more of her writing at https://sandybrannan.com  and .  

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