Cancer affects more than just the child. Please read on to hear some of the stories told by family members.
Our first story is about Sophie.
This morning, my friend Anna posted a picture on Facebook. There was a long caption
attached to it and in all caps I could see the words, “IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME”. Naturally, this
drew me in. I looked at the picture and saw two smiling faces, a man whom I had never seen
and a woman who shared the same smile as my friend Anna. The woman held her hand to the
camera, showcasing a brand new engagement ring. I continued reading the beautifully written
post, smiling upon reading things such as “I don’t know of two other people in this world more
deserving of the happiness you have found in each other”. I was so incredibly happy about the
engagement of someone I had never met because my friend was so incredibly happy for her
older sister. The comment on the post read, “Crying at work. You are my favorite sister”.
Of course, after reading this post, I started to think about my own wedding. I thought
about the dorky toasts my brothers would make and how both my parents would cry. Then I
thought about who I was going to text when my husband-to-be popped the question. I thought
about who was going to post that picture, sharing with the world not only my good news, but
hers too. I thought about who that was going to be, and I thought about who that should be, and
I realized, they aren’t the same person. My maid of honor will be my best friend. But, my maid of
honor will not be my sister. My sister will not be the one posting on Facebook about how excited
she is for her future brother-in-law to become a part of the family. She will not plan my
bachelorette party and she will not be in the pictures of me at the alter. As excited as I am for
my theoretical wedding, I am not excited for the constant reminders that the one person I really
want there, is not.
My little sister passed away sixteen years ago, just days before she turned one. She lost
her battle with liver cancer, a battle she fought for the entirety of her short life. I remember and
miss my sister daily. I look at pictures of her and feel lucky to have had time with her, no matter
how short it was. I remember little things, like how she loved peaches or how I decided her
favorite color was yellow. I remember little things like this because they are the only memories I
have. I am thankful for the time I spent with her, no matter how short, because it is time that sits
in my memory as an unbreakable bubble of pure joy.
Everyday, I think about how much it sucks that I have to miss her, how missing her is
really my only choice. I think about how much it sucks that my beautiful little sister never got a
chance to grow up and how I never got a chance to grow up beside her. I was the big sister, the
one she was supposed to look up to, the one she should have wanted so badly to be and
wanted so badly not to be. I was supposed to teach her, tease her and be there for her. She
was supposed to teach me, tease me and be there for me, too.
People call me brave, people keep me and my family in their prayers. They truly wish the
end result had been different, and, believe me, so do I. I appreciate their kind thoughts,
reminders of love, and notes of encouragement. But none of that changes the fact that my sister
is not here anymore. None of that changes the fact that her and I never got the chance to talk
about our lives, to fight about our messes or to exchange eye rolls behind our parents’ backs.
We never got to drive to school together, watch crappy reality TV together or visit each other at
college. The list of “we never got to’s” goes on and on, and, it will never end.
I got less than twelve months with my sister, less than twelve months of memories and
companionship. The only thing I would trade that time for would be more time. A lifetime of time.
I want to look at my dance recital pictures, my graduation pictures, my wedding pictures and see
her next to me. I want her to be my best friend, my maid of honor, my children’s godmother.
And, of course, in my head, she will be. She already is. But, in reality, she won’t be, she can’t
be, she never got the chance to be. Cancer sucks for so many reasons, but for me, cancer
• sucks because it is the reason the most recent picture of my sister was taken sixteen years ago.
I love my sister, I miss my sister, and I would do anything for her to still be here with me.