Cancer Sucks

The 3rd anniversary of the day cancer took a life very dear to me is rapidly approaching.

For the remainder of my days I will never forget the exact date that I received that phone call.  The one that forever changed my life.  Her voice crackling on the other end asking for me to come.  Every part of my being wanting to point my car in the direction of her hospital and drive until I got there.  Right that moment.

I will be forever grateful for the love and understanding of my honey.  She rallied my friends and the village cared for my family so that I could leave as close to immediately as possible.  I am blessed to keep some very amazing people in my life.

During my time with my sister I willing and most certainly gladly took on the role of super auntie to my beautiful nephew.  The day I arrived in town I took my nephew for much of the evening.  I wanted my sister to have time to process the time she had remaining with her husband.

My nephew and I went to the local mall for a fast food dinner of his choosing.  We walked around looking at store windows and people watching.  Then I took him to the book store.

We browsed the children’s book section.  He was perusing the Shrek and Spiderman books.  I was carefully scanning the books on dying and losing a parent.  I knew in my heart of hearts that my sister would not ever be returning home.  She was going to have to leave her very young son whether she wanted to or not.  I made it my job to help my sister and brother in-law explain to my nephew that his mommy would soon only be with him in spirit.

I grabbed a stack of books that appeared appropriate.  I moved them to the area that my nephew was more interested in.  I wanted him to be comfortable while I looked through books that would hopefully help him understand a concept that most adults don’t even understand.  I read the words of each book carefully.  I tried to hide my tears.  As I continued through the books I became saddened for another reason.  All of the books I had in my hand talked about cancer in details meant for young children.  Unfortunately, all of the books I had in my hand also found the mommies or daddies or grandparents still alive and recovering at the end of each book.  No one died.

Reality check.  Cancer sucks.  People die.  My nephew was not going to have a story where his mommy came home with him and got better.  My nephew’s story still gets a happy ending, in the long run.  But in that moment, my nephew’s story was sad.  His mommy was going to heaven.

I settled on a couple of books that talked about heaven and death.  Sadly, nothing directly related to cancer.  I bought him a couple of fun books too and we left the store.

That night I cried myself to sleep.  I cried for all children like my nephew.  Children who have a parent fighting a losing cancer battle.  Children who only have access to books with parents who come home and get better.  Books where the parent lives.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m thankful for these books.  There are children who have parents with cancer and their parents will get better.  They will live.  But the ones who don’t break my heart.

So I made a vow.  I would remedy that.  I would write that book.  I would make a story to honor my sister and my nephew and my brother-in-law.  I would share it with anyone who would read it in the hopes that someday some other super auntie will have an appropriate book to buy for her nephew before his mommy leaves for heaven.

As the anniversary of my sister’s death approaches I find myself ashamed.  I think about the book often but haven’t come close to putting a word on paper.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps I’m not ready to tell the story.  Perhaps I’m worried the illustrator will get the pictures wrong.  Perhaps I fear that no one will ever read it.

But no one will ever read it if I don’t write it.  And truly I’m writing it for him.  My sweet, beautiful nephew with his mommy’s charming smile.

So I think I’m ready.  It’s time to put the story out there.  I promise to share it with you when all is said and done.

In the mean time I’d love your thoughts, your words of wisdom, of encouragement.  I’d love to know any resources you have.

This will be a journey – as this entire 3 years has been.  I will keep music in my heart as it is one of many things that has always bound my sister and I together.  I will stay true to my heart and true to her story.  And I will use this to get me through:

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother ~ Rufus Wainwright

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another.

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

He’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

**Read She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Sister**

Thank you for your love and support always.  You have helped lead me to this moment.  For that I am eternally grateful.


About Brotherly Love

I am a mom, partner, teacher and a lover of life. I have two fabulous boys who define my life as I know it. One of my children has been diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder, Asperger's and anxiety disorder. I blog as much about him as I do about my life and the lives of my immediate family.
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4 Responses to Cancer Sucks

  1. I’ve been looking for books, too. You’re right. There’s not a great one out there for kids. You need to write one.

  2. Kate says:

    Offering any support you need. The book sounds like a really important project!

  3. Debbi Henry says:

    Heather, as I have told you in the past, your writing is beautiful, but when you write about your sister, it goes beyond beautiful and truly shines. Write the book. I’m very sure it was meant for you, and only you, to write.


  4. Elastamom says:

    I think you’ll write a perfect book when you’re ready. 🙂

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