After finishing my first two clinics (!!) this week, and getting ready for my third clinic tomorrow, I am already seeing changes in myself. Some are small, some are larger, some are small steps that will build and help me become better. I am working so hard to trust my knowledge and myself, let go of fears and insecurities and just go for it.
Something that I keep hearing in my head, or keep repeating to myself is “Thanks Becca.”
For those of you who don’t know me very well, Becca is my younger sister that passed away almost ten years ago. A few days before my 16th birthday, way back in 1999, my sister Becca, 14 at the time was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue form of cancer. From the start, we all knew the prognosis wasn’t good, with a 20% survival rate, it was too scary to even think about what could happen. Almost immediately after the diagnosis, Becca started treatment at the Jimmy Fund Clinic in Boston. Over the next 3 years, she was in and out of the hospital. Responding well to treatment, hair falling out, feeling sick, feeling better, getting clear scans, hair growing back, cancer coming back…hope, dread, happiness and fear.
It was such a strange (for lack of a better word) time of my life. Especially now, being older, realizing how young Becca was at the time, how young I was at the time. Besides Becca, I also have an older brother, a younger brother and two younger sisters. With my brother and I being the older siblings we got more responsibility during that time. I gratefully took it, feeling like I could do something to help and control, when there wasn’t much else in my life that I could. Also, being a teenager, it gave me more freedom to do things I probably shouldn’t have been doing.
The years passed by with some family trips that we really couldn’t afford, but took anyway to have the time and memories together as a complete family. Becca looked beautiful at her Sophomore Semi-formal, and Junior prom, but never made it to the senior prom. I graduated high school and started my freshman year at Saint Anselm College in 2002. Looking back now, it seems like a different life.
Her journey ended about 7:30 the night of September 30, 2002. All 8 of us, just our immediately family were with her as she took her last breath. My gram, aunts and uncle leaving the room just minutes before. I will never forget that time, down to every last detail, and even now, almost ten years later, it brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat.
Thinking about Becca being so young- 14 seems like a baby to me now, being 28 myself- it just makes me sad. But it also makes me so motivated, so happy to be alive, and just a real need/want to live the heck out of this life I have been given, and to rock it.
Being where I am in life now, so far from the 16 year old, trying to be an irresponsible teenager and a responsible sibling at the same time. Far from the college student, having a hard time with the loss, but dealing with it as best I could. And even far from the college grad, the time in my life when I met George and slowly found my way to where I am now.
Everything that happens in life has a purpose. Obviously I would trade all the good in my life to have Becca back with me, but looking back at every part of my life, it was Becca that got me to where I am today.
I will always be sad at Becca’s passing, but the sadness has changed and turned into strength.
I will always long to have her back with me, but the longing has turned to knowing that she is with me, all the time.
It saddens me that she never got to experience so much life has to offer, but it drives me to live my life as best I can with her in mind.
So thanks Becca.
Thanks for helping me to become the best me I can be. For leading with your own strength, beauty and happiness. For never leaving me but helping me and guiding me. I love you, and know you are with me every step of the way.