We are all stories- stories constantly being written and revised. My story continues to be written. These last two years have had chapters with challenges and pain, but also with resilience and strength. The last few months I have been carrying some heavy emotions; thoughts and feelings that were often only fully expressed with a steady stream of tears. They were heavy. This trip was more than a vacation; for me, it was cathartic. It was a way to fully release these emotions and to recalibrate my soul. It helped me reaffirm what I know is constant and true, and to once again embrace the blessings that surround me, my biggest being Jay, and to be grateful despite the challenges we continue facing.
Cancer is an insidious disease. The mere sound of those six little letters has a way to paralyze even the strongest of souls. It brings giants to their knees. It does more to your mind than it does to your body. It ravages your thoughts and steals one of the things most valuable to you: peace of mind. Many sometimes do not consciously factor in what it does to the family that is also suffering with this disease. The uncertainty is what kills you. With every phone call there is a sudden trigger of crippling anxiety beating out of your chest because all you can think is “What now?” No matter how hard you try, it is the ever present shadow lurking stealthily behind you, ready to pounce. Some days it is a struggle to share those heavy emotions. You disguise your feelings with a smile and do your best to carry on, but inside you carry the weight of your sobering reality. And as crazy as this next statement may sound, it is unequivocally true- cancer has helped me be a better person.
A cancer diagnosis in your family forever changes you. In my case it was Jay’s mom. It rocks you to your core in a way you will only ever fully know if you experience it, and I sincerely hope you never do. However, with these challenging times came growth and deep reflection which produced a more profound appreciation for those I love. It has helped me become a better person- a better wife, daughter, sister, tia, and friend. You look at life and people differently- in a more finite way. Suddenly, life has an expiration date for everyone you hold dear. You are grasping at every moment, attempting to extend it, but more than anything else, to cherish it. You learn the true meaning of what it is to be present- inherently giving of yourself to a specific moment or person. More than anything else, you truly learn the importance of letting things go and leaving no room for trivialities, resentment, or hurt. I have more than ever seen the importance of telling the people I truly love what they mean to me, often accompanied with a torrent of tears. But each tear reveals a profound love that I often cannot fully articulate with words. Perhaps more than anything else, I have learned to fight even harder for those special people I love and to give them the one thing we all value most: time.
This trip was cathartic. So much of what I have been holding in for so long I was finally able to let go. Nature recalibrated me. These mountains reminded me that the God who powerfully created these majestic peaks is the same one who has given me the power and strength I have needed to stand here today. I stand here resolute and more fiercely determined than ever to continue smiling in the face of adversity, knowing it has not broken me, rather it has fueled me to continue to write my story. The story of a woman who is unbreakable. It is with the strength of my God I stand, forever smiling, looking ahead with a heart full of inextinguishable confidence and hope in what is to come.