Not Ready

“I’m not ready for this.”
They are the words I thought in early January when I heard your diagnosis.
The words I repeated over and over on the brink of a panic attack in my bathroom when I found out the tumor wasn’t shrinking.
The words on loop in my mind as I cried in my kitchen the day I found out you had less than two months left.
The same words have been radiating through me today.
I’m not ready.
Not ready to say goodbye.
Not ready to grieve you.
Because I didn’t get you for long enough.
And it’s not fucking fair. It’s not fair.
None of it’s fair, and I’m not ready.

I will never forget the first time I met you. Killian was only a year old and you’d stopped by with Nate on Thanksgiving. Nate, of course, didn’t make the pronunciation of your name clear. You blatantly corrected me with a fierce tone. It terrified me, but a second later you made it clear how important it is to stand up for yourself.
It was the first of many lessons you would teach me on how not to give a fuck. Didn’t always pass that class with flying colors (I’m a type 9 after all), but I learned by your example.

At the beginning, I was afraid to let you in. Afraid to grow close then lose you if you and Nate broke up. How ridiculous of me. It didn’t take long for you to become a true sister. Though we didn’t see eye to eye on everything, you always respected me, and I appreciated that.

A little piece of truth, I was upset when you moved to Maine. I selfishly wanted to keep you where I could see you every weekend. Family gatherings were less fun without your particular brand of snark (and encouragement that I should definitely show my cleavage).

Our girls’ nights were replaced with frequent texting and hour plus phone conversations. During our last phone chat, you told me the only thing you didn’t like about our new house was that you couldn’t picture me walking around in it since you hadn’t seen it.

That sums you up so perfectly, that you wanted the full picture in your mind’s eye.
I hate that you didn’t get to see it. Didn’t get to sit around the kitchen table with us for one last ‘garbage party.’
But I hate even more that you couldn’t have many of the ‘lasts’ you wanted. That your life was slowly robbed from you. First by the extreme pain and then by the side effects of chemo.

I am grateful for our last visit, a last hug that I knew might be my last with you but hoped it wouldn’t be. I was glad it helped with some of the burden you felt, even if the trip was bittersweet.
I’m mostly upset that because of COVID and life, I didn’t get one last in person visit with the fullest version of you. It had been two years since I’d last seen you in person, and damn it, I wanted more. I’ll always want more.
I suppose that’s the selfish side of it all.

You taught me so much, let me see a side of you that you didn’t show to everyone, and encouraged me to follow my heart. Even in those pain-filled moments, you encouraged me to keep writing.
I can’t thank you enough for everything you shared with me. Your light, your love, your pain. I’ll do my best to keep passing those bits of you on.
I have a feeling you’re not done with lessons yet, though. You’re everywhere now, and I’m sure you’ll be guiding me and sending me some more to learn and grow from when I need it. Like the final words you left us with.

Ugh. This sucks.
Cancer sucks.
And it’s not fair. None of this is.
I’m not ready, and I never will be.
But I love you so fiercely, and thus I have to grieve.
I’m sure you’re embarking on your greatest journey yet. I hope it’s amazing. I look forward to meeting with you again someday, in whatever form.
I love you. Always.

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