This is the post that I never wanted to write. But I knew the day would come. I just hoped that there would more time. There’s obviously never a good time for these things; but when it comes, it just takes your breath away.
My dear cousin Rachel died on Saturday. I REFUSE to say she lost her battle to cancer. I’ve never seen anyone fight with more passion, courage, strength and grace than she has these past five years. To say she lost her battle is to discredit everything she did to extend her life as long as possible.
I don’t know quite what to do with myself now. Since her brother called me last night to share the horrible news, I’ve mostly been in shock. This was her Facebook status update on Wednesday afternoon.
Once again, her strength and joy for life tricked us all into thinking that she she was “OK.” Of course, she hasn’t been OK in years, but every one of us were praying so hard that she’d at least make it through one last Christmas with her two young children. I’ve never known anyone who loves Christmas like Rachel; I just can’t stop crying for so many reasons, but among them, I pray so fervently that the timing of this doesn’t forever ruin her favorite holiday for her children.
I need more time to collect my thoughts on this. I’m too raw and emotional to adequately say the things I want to say about Rachel. As some of you may remember, I helped Rachel set up her own blog last year. I’m going to let Rachel’s words help me get through these next few days:
Here’s some more information you know and this is the information that messes up the context of my reality for most of you. I am happy, most of the time (although the last couple of months have been particularly difficult). I love to laugh and make jokes about everything, including my cancer. I find humor natural and therapeutic. I can laugh at myself, my situation and you! I smile a lot and I love my big extended family. I want to be at family get-togethers and I want to be there looking good without talking/thinking about cancer. I see you when I am healthy enough to leave my house, thus I tend to “look good” when you see me. I always tell you I am “doing ok” because if I am out of the house and enjoying life and seeing you, I AM doing okay. I am hopeful and upbeat and joyous most of the time. I like to dance and sing and I tend to speak my mind. I believe in God and feel his presence and his love around me. I put a lot of work in to living my life to the fullest and I tend not to complain or dwell too long on the negative. Given what you all know about me medically and also considering what you know about me personally, I guess I can see why the following reality check may be needed. I just don’t want to change the boundaries of our relationship based on a small little word, but here goes. The reality check. I am dying.
Powerful stuff, huh? You can see why I was constantly in awe of her.
I’m not sure when I’ll be back. I’ve half-written my Atlantis post and some other projects but everything just seems frivilous and silly today. I’m also going to try and get ahead on some work in case I’m able to go home to Pennsylvania this week for services.
Until then, I leave you two thoughts. One, this our our Team Rachel bracelets. And it’s exactly how I feel today.
In addition to my bracelet, today I’m also wearing my Team Rachel t-shirt from one of her fundraising walks. It contains the mantra she lived by over these past five years. Here’s how Rachel put it on her blog:
Remember, life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain! Bring on the storm, I am ready to dance!!!!!
Save a dance for me Rachel. I know we’ll be together again.