In her final weeks of life, my sister and I spoke very candidly about how life has unfolded and the reality of her situation. I held her hand as she expressed fears of leaving her children. We laughed as we reminisced about memories only sisters would share. One thing that moved us both to tears was talking about how close our broken family had become during this crisis. This got me thinking about many of the silver linings that have surfaced over the course of her illness.
Two years ago, we got the devastating news: at the age of 37, Amanda was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. We were overwhelmed with anger, fear, and a whole host of emotions. At first, I was afraid to discuss the truth about this diagnosis with anyone. I attempted to avoid conversations that would lead to the inevitable emotions that would follow. I instead tried talking about surface level things that would not trigger the tears. Then something changed and I started to see vulnerability as a good thing. My entire family is going though this, and exposing our fears and sadness to one another is actually a beautiful thing. We know without a doubt we are not alone.
In the past I would never want to burden friends with my pain. I recently spent an evening with friends star gazing and allowing myself to show raw emotion. Looking up at that star-filled sky, I thought about doing this to feel closer to Amanda after she passes. This is a moment I will cherish forever. My friends embraced my vulnerability and showed me a tremendous amount of support.
My sister Amanda has a tattoo on her forearm that I have been thinking about a lot lately. The tattoo says “Strength”. She got this tattoo in her mid twenties. I never asked her why she chose this word as her tattoo, but somehow I feel like it was a sign from the universe. People say you never know how strong you are until you have to be. Yet another silver lining in this situation is the strength I see in my entire family during this difficult and dark time. My mother should never have to face the trauma of losing her daughter, yet she shows up for Amanda everyday in ways I cannot even list! My incredible nieces wake up everyday unsure if it will be the last time they will see their mother, yet they find the strength to smile.
“Life isn’t about the material stuff, it’s about the people and memories”.
When forced to examine your life for its true value, we can cut the crap! As I have heard my sister saying to her girls. “Life isn’t about the material stuff, it’s about the people and memories”. This incredibly difficult situation has really opened my eyes to embrace each day as tomorrow is never promised. Tell people you love them, kiss more, play more, and live life fully everyday!
While searching for some way to take my pain away, I have discovered a deep connection with myself and my spirituality. In moments of anxiety and uncertainty, I have turned to meditation and connections to a higher power. My sister has become reconnected with God. Whatever you believe, there is something very powerful about faith and trusting the process. Even though we may not like the outcome now, I can’t help but believe there is more to life.
One thing our family is ever grateful for is the angels we have here on earth that have reached out almost daily to share well wishes, prayers and support in so many ways! The nurses that have shown so much compassion and love for my sister will forever be in our hearts. The community support gives me a sense of hope in humanity.
The most powerful silver lining is a feeling of gratitude when I think of all of the incredible moments shared between my sister and I. I regret nothing about our relationship. I am so grateful we have experienced such a deep connection and friendship over the past 35 years. This double-edged sword hits my heart the most. Although I will never be ready to say goodbye to my sister, I am looking forward to our reunion. Until then, she will live on inside all of us.
Losing someone you love may be the end of a chapter in what we call life, but it is also a time for new beginnings and a chance to reconnect with the truly important people in your life. and experiences you hold dear to your heart. Use the grieving process as a time to remember the experiences you hold dear to your heart, then dig deep, embrace the tough feelings and find inner peace again.