You think you know loss. You think you know what it feels like to hurt or go through hard times. Until you hear that word: cancer. Until that word isn’t so distant. Until the word means something to you. Until it means life or death for someone you love.
That word will forever and always mean so much to me. Hearing the words “Mom has cancer” changed my life. And it was never the same after that.
I remember the day you got diagnosed. Not because I was told you had cancer that day, but because I felt it. I knew something was wrong when you came home from your check up at the doctor—I knew a bad feeling when I felt one. And this was definitely not a good one. Within 24 hours, I was told my grandmother, who may as well have been my second mother (hence, me calling her ‘mom’ my whole life) had a very rare cancer at stage 4 with a very low chance of surviving. Just like that.
But… how? It was only last week that we were gossiping about my high school drama. It was only last week you were cooking me dinner and picking me up from school. Now, all of a sudden, you could be gone any second.
My mind went into defense mode because I didn’t know how else to comprehend something like this. This is when the word cancer suddenly felt like something I was a victim to. It wasn’t until that moment that this word felt so close to my soul. And it still does today.
Watching someone you love battle cancer is something I can’t even put into words. And I think it’s something only those that have been through it understand. It’s like you’re watching a movie from the eyes of someone else. The days get shorter, but they’re actually longer. It gets worse and worse until their pain is gone, and one day you’re told that they’re actually gone. And again, your mind goes into defense mode. Because as a human, it’s far too much emotion to handle all at once. So you go on with life, and at the most inconvenient of times it’ll hit you. They’re gone. Forever. You’ll do everything you possibly can to forget all the pain you saw them endure. You’ll do everything you can to keep it together because if you didn’t, you’d fall apart.
But I think now, I owe it to you to remember. I owe it to you to remember how you fought through such a rare, aggressive cancer with grace. I’ll remember how from the moment you were diagnosed, your biggest concern was how your family would deal with it instead of how you were going to survive. And I’ll remember how I want to live a life for you, in dedication and in memory of you. I’ll remember everything about you that I strive to be. A life you would be proud of.
I’ll remember to live your legacy, because you’re not gone if I remember.