On Friday I went to a local botanical garden and found myself surrounded by my sister. She was there, in the breeze, in the plants, in the history of the place. For a minute she was alive again, and we were on spring break taking pictures with our stuffed animals under the branches in the breeze.
I cried in the car the entire drive home.
Sunday my parents, my wife and I went to the cemetery and laid flowers on her grave.
My baby sister was 25 when she died. One month and one day away from being 26. Ovarian cancer slowly destroyed her abdomen and stole her from us 50 years too early. This September will mark two years since she died. Two years since my life was changed forever.
Grieving is hard business.
From the moment she went into hospice care, up until about 6 months ago, the song on repeat in my head were a few lines from the song "What you Own" from one of her favorite musicals, RENT.
Don't breathe too deep, don't think all day Dive into work, drive the other way That drip of hurts, that pint of shame Goes away, just play the game
And that is what I did. I worked. And worked. And worked. And am still working. I worked through the pain and ran from the pain through working. I worked instead of feeling. I still work instead of feeling. I still turn off my emotions the moment a tear begins to trickle down my cheek.
This is not healthy and I know it.
I am learning how to grieve. I am learning how to take the anger and fear and sadness I have and use them to live a life as full as I can. It is the only thing I can do.
When she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she began to do the work. To raise awareness of this horrible form of cancer and she fought to find the bright spots in the midst of the unthinkable.
She wrote an article on xojane, she did television interviews, she blogged and she fought like fucking hell. She took charge of every moment of her life and lived it to the fullest. She LIVED her life and used what energy she had after chemo to try and make the world a better place for others.
In the end her cancer was resistant to every type of chemo and clinical trial the doctors could throw at it. Science just isn't advanced enough yet to save my sister.
Her death taught me that we each only have one shot. We could die tomorrow. As my buddy Alexander Hamilton would say, "I am not throwin' away my shot." I listen to that song on repeat and miss the hell out of my sister, knowing that she would be immensely proud of the work I am doing.
What will you do with your shot?