Topic: My Sister's Blessing
My sister, Amanda, died last June from cholangiocarcinoma. I was with her some 18 months prior, at MCV Hospital, when the doctor gave her this diagnosis and the first of many disappointing prognosis. I joked with her that she couldn't get a normal cancer like everyone else -- she had to get the weird sounding one.
My sister showed such strength through all of this and that is no exaggeration. I still marvel at her ability to laugh and maintain her sense of self, even during the worst times.
She told a friend accompanying her to chemo one day that she may not be able to beat this disease...but that it may also be a blessing. And the blessing may not even be hers.
Well, I think about this statement often now, because a great part of the blessing was mine. I was blessed to be with her. I feel so grateful for the time we spent. The trips to Richmond for chemo -- when we'd both leave there so exhausted and drained - yet still find laughs in between the dread. She even had a happy birthday in the hospital that year. She called it life on life's terms and made the best of it.
I am grateful that I got to share her with so many friends who loved her so dearly. I developed a new understanding of the word compassion thanks to her and them. I still marvel how these people came around her to help, in anyway they could. Mostly, just to be with her and me.
I learned more than I wanted about the subject of grief...and anticipatory grief. This, for me, was the worst, because it took me out of the present and being with her. I had to focus on the "present" and take care of the matters at hand, that day and this helped me get through......it was easier said than done most days. Especially, when the prognosis would change so drastically and so would our expectations. She would get disappointed -- but always regain her "fight".
I think I learned alot about my own strength and lack of it. This was part of the blessing as well.
My heart goes out to anyone dealing with this disease and the pain it causes on all levels. Keep up the good fight, try to laugh alot and find your peace. Thanks for letting me share.