We must remember what happened but also move forward.
Cancer is a word that many hear in the abstract, but it does not hit you what those six letters mean until it permeates your world. Statistically, it happens far more often than we realize. To those who have never had it happen to them, it is impossible to comprehend what it’s like.
I was 23 when my sister was diagnosed and though I knew she was sick, hearing that word was surreal. Almost all of my thought process during the initial diagnosis was far from rational. I didn’t understand how it was fair or even the basic reasoning for this happening to somebody so young. Let alone somebody who was my sister.
In the beginning when people ask you about it, it’s hard to find the words. When we as a family finally did, there was often silence from those who had originally asked. I now better understand that it isn’t because they didn’t care. It is simply because they too couldn’t find the right words to say.
As my sister endured countless treatments, I had my reasons for being there, just as those who weren’t there had their reasons. Something I’ve come to learn is that hospitals, clinics and cancer’s difficulty is not for everyone. That’s not to say that they don’t care. Or that they don’t love the ones with cancer. It’s to say that everybody has limits for what they can and can’t handle. And if nothing else, cancer does a fantastic job of pushing those limits.
As I witnessed some of her hardest days, I sat in silence with my fiancé, a handful of friends and nurses. In those moments, silence was the answer. Because to be honest, there will never be words enough for how hard some of those moments truly were. And while she may never be ready to put word to what has happened, I have been able to process through a lot what happened with my writings here with CURE.
For better or worse in these past three years, life has continued. There are times when I wish I could go back and do things differently, that I could change not only what I did and how I reacted, but how others did, too. I wish I could tell them that it was OK to be scared and that they didn’t have to show up all the time, but a visit every now and then really mattered. A phone call on some of those long nights would’ve been enough to show that you cared.
But I know that isn’t reality. And that you can’t go back, you can only keep moving forward. So, despite how I still feel about all that happened during cancer, I am choosing to forgive, accept and move forward and to take the time now that we didn’t know we’d have and make better memories. Share in laughter and soak up the time that we have been gifted. And to remember when I look back, that what happened just is and what happens now is what we make it.