This morning it occurred to me that today marked 17 years since we lost my cousin. He was only 20 when he went into the water to save a drowning friend. The friend came out and he didn’t. For a long time, that didn’t make sense but we managed to get through it. I was 17 when we lost him. On August 31, it will be 16 years since we lost my dad and August 20 is eight months since we lost my brother. My baby brother was only three when we lost dad and my older sister was 19. Life didn’t make sense then and we got through that. Life doesn’t make sense now with the loss of my brother and I wonder how we will we will fare just trying to get through it. We have lost many others along the way but these three deaths stand out the most in my life.
Losing someone you love makes you see life differently. Cancer is one of things that force you to wonder why life does not make sense. My family had, for the most part, been lucky until cancer came into our lives. Cancer doesn’t care about age – it’s random. My brother’s cancer was a death sentence and he was so very young – only 31. My brother fought hard but cancer had a head start. When he died, he wasn’t alone. His family was all around him as he embraced God with open arms. For that, I am forever grateful.
For a long time, I asked, “why him?” Why did this have to be his fate? One moment our lives (and his) were normal and the next, they had been turned upside down. I remember the sleepless nights researching his disease and trying to find answers and solutions. I barely saw my kids – none of us saw our kids. My siblings and I spent more time at his side than we did at home. Cancer became a part of all of our lives and “normal” wasn’t part of our vocabulary anymore. Most of the time my brother spent in the hospital before he passed away is a blur. Even the funeral and the days following were a blur. Sometimes when I drive past the hospital where he passed away, I speed up so that I can drove past it fast or I avoid the route that would put me in front of it.
I learned the importance of life and living it truly and honestly by watching my brother fight cancer. He never once said he didn’t want to die. He accepted that he was terminal with more dignity and humility than anyone I have ever known. I was proud to be his big sister and I am still am.
For many months, I have been sad and trying to make it though. I know that this sadness will be with me or a long time. My brother left an imprint in our lives that lasted 31 years. I have reached out to God but for quite some time, I didn’t really understand the lesson here. I didn’t really get why the past couple of years had been so hard for me. I thought that I needed answers but lately, I have realized that there aren’t any. When my brother got sick, I was constantly reminded that God only gives us what he knows we can handle. I reminded myself that again today. God knows how strong and how capable I am and he has only given me what he knows I can handle.
I have overcome a lot in my life and I have accomplished so much and considering where I was ten years ago, I am what many would call a survivor. I have always been a survivor and God knows that better than anyone. So there really isn’t a lesson learned. There is no test…if it was test, I couldn’t handle it. God gave me what he knew I could handle. Then, he allowed me to lean on him as I searched for answers. All these questions that I wanted answers to only had one answer.
God was reaching out to me reminding that I wasn’t alone because I had him on my side. I have had God on my side for a long time. Everything that I have endured and overcome, he was there guiding me through. He was there even when I didn’t want to reach out to him. He was there when I did reach out and he was there was I was questioning my beliefs and my faith. He was there every moment of every day of my life just waiting for me to reach out and actually take his hand. I get it now – there are no lessons…some things just don’t make sense but God’s there helping us get through. He has been there for me nearly 36 years and even when I questioned him, he waited with his hand held out… just waiting for me to take it. And I have, it has taken me a long time and a lot of self-doubt but I finally taken God’s hand and my journey towards healing has just began.