Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cancer Eats Away at Life

Before I was even born my Mimi (my grandma on my mom's side) got breast cancer. She was 43 years old. Two years later she had a mastectomy and went through chemotherapy. Then not more than five years later she had another lump on the same side.

I am not sure what she underwent at that time. I don't even know if I was actually aware that my Mimi had cancer. As I grew up I got along with Mimi quite well and became very close to her. I would spend the night at her house and sleep in the same bed with her. We would bake things and use our hands instead of measuring cups. She taught me sewing. She was always creating something. She had a garden in her backyard and knew all about what kinds of wild plants you could and could not eat. But what she did best of all was just love people.

When I was 13 I found out that Mimi's breast cancer had metastasized to the bone. I remember crying that day. How could someone with so much love for people and life be so terribly sick? And not just anyone, but my Mimi, my best friend. Shortly thereafter my dad had a job transfer and my family moved thousands of miles across country. Not only was there a new physical distance between my Mimi and I but there was a new unseen wall between us as well. When I found out she was sick again I distanced myself from her because I was afraid of losing her and being hurt.

Even after my family moved back to Michigan I was never as close to Mimi as I had once been. I was still afraid. She was in so much pain. Immense amounts of pain. And all I did was stand by and watch her slowly sink lower and lower. Through all that pain she kept on loving and doing her best to give to those around her. While I withheld my love from her.

She lived four and half years after the cancer spread to her bones. She died on Christmas day in 2005. Christmas will never be the same again. Life will never be the same again. Mimi was always the one that made things special and brought the family together.

It will be four years this Christmas since she died. But the hurt hasn't gotten any better. I still miss her. I always thought she would be there for me. Especially at my wedding. She would have enjoyed everything about it so much. Now I will have to plan that day without her and there will be a dear part of me missing.

Writing this wasn't easy and I think you probably wanted to hear more encouraging stories. But I wanted to share this one because I hope some people out there can learn from my mistakes. Instead of dealing with the hurt I lived detatched from reality. I didn't even cry until more than a year after her death. I regret not being there for Mimi. I am sad that I didn't cherish every moment I had with her while I still could. So, to all those people out there who have loved ones in there life that are sick in one way or another, your story may not have a happy ending, but you are not alone. Don't pull away from your loved ones. They are at a time in there life when they need you most. It is not going to hurt any less if you leave them.

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