October is a special month for me.
No, it’s not my birthday. Nor is it anyone in my family’s. It isn’t my anniversary or any other special occasion.
It’s breast cancer awareness month.
This is a month of awareness for those who have battled breast cancer. For the survivors and the fallen. For the ones who are currently fighting. This is a month of hope for them and their families.
For me, this is a month of remembrance. 7 years ago, I lost my grandma to cancer. What started out as breast cancer that had a simple solution, developed into a full fledged attack on her body that the doctors were too slow to stop.
I lost my grandma to the disease that has ravaged my family throughout the years. Let me tell you a little bit about my grandmother.
She had this wonderful laugh. It was so infectious, you couldn’t help but smile when you heard it. Sometimes she would laugh so hard that she would actually cry.
She had a thing for late night snacks. She never failed to call all of us into the kitchen for some cookies and milk right before bed. I’m not sure if that was her way of spoiling us or her way of feeling better about snacking so late, but whatever it was I was always the 1st one to the table.
She loved caramel squares. And Jelly Bellies. She’d buy the huge box of Jelly Bellies and sit there coming up with new combinations. I’d come over and she’d have several new mixes for me to try. I don’t ever eat a Jelly Belly without thinking of my grandma now.
She was a worrier. Whether it was about her children or her grand babies, she was always worried about one of us. I remember when I got bit by a black widow. I specifically recall telling her to remain calm and to not freak out. Of course, she still freaked out. I’ve never seen her move so quickly in my life. She swung me into her arms so swiftly it knocked the wind out of me.
She felt other’s pain. She was the one who would drive me from my daddy’s back to my mom’s house after every visit. I would cry so much leaving daddy, that sometimes grandma would have to peel me from his arms. As we’d drive away, she would have tears rolling down her cheeks as she apologized over and over. She’d hold my hand until my tears dried.
She was loving beyond belief. You could have just broken every single rule she had, and she’d still wrap you in her arms while scolding you. We could come in from playing outside with mud all over our feet and she’d screech at us to get out while giggling.
She was also the matriarch of my family. Where she went, we all went. And when she died, so did our family bond. We scattered our separate ways, and haven’t been the same since. I haven’t spoken to my Papa in over 5 years. I haven’t spoken to my Aunt since grandma’s funeral. My cousins and I, who grew up side by side, haven’t spoken to each other in so long that I forget what their voices sound like.
There’s no fingers to point or person to blame. We’ve all failed my grandma. She would be destroyed if she could see what we have done to each other. But, because she’s grandma, she would pull us all back together like only she could.
But she’s gone. And so is my family. No one is to blame, except for the awful disease called cancer.
I know it sounds like I am bitter. Maybe even angry. And I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t. But mostly I’m just sad. Sad that she never got to meet Ninja. Sad that Little Sissy never got to hear her laugh. Sad that Little Bro still cries for her. Sad that my family is torn apart.
But with this sadness also comes joy. Because my grandma performed one last act of love for me before she passed. When I last visited her, before the cancer spread to her brain and took away her speech, she made me promise her I’d visit a church. She made me promise I would give Jesus a chance. I remember standing there completely bewildered. How could she not be mad at God? I was furious. Look what He allowed to happen to her! It wasn’t until after I knew Jesus that I understood the hope she had. That God didn’t GIVE her cancer, but that He was going to save her from her pain.
I know now that everything happens for a reason. I’m not going to sit here and act like I know the meaning behind everything, because I don’t. But what I do know, is that my grandma saved me. Through her strength, her love, and her faith, she guided me to Christ, even as she was fading away.
I have 3 heroes in my life. One is daddy, one is Sissy and the other is grandma. And while this month is hard for me, I won’t let cancer ruin my grandmother’s memories. I want to think of her and smile. I want to hold on to her laugh, her love, and her strength. And that’s what I plan on doing.
So 7 years ago I lost my grandmother. I lost my grandmother, and gained an angel.