Last week, my cousin, Lisa, passed away at 41 from cancer. She was diagnosed just last year with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer, and the treatment they did was pretty aggressive – chemo, a mastectomy, followed by radiation. But after the mastectomy, they did tests and found that the cancer had spread. She returned to chemo treatments, but the cancer still spread. She was hospitalized a few weeks ago, but her body just couldn’t recover.
Even though she is my cousin, we have always had more of a sisterly bond. I wanted to be just like her when I was a kid. I remember one night we were going somewhere with friends and they remarked how much I acted like her. I responded with “Yeah, buddy” which was something she said all the time, and the whole car just burst into laughter.
She taught me about make-up, boys, sex, and peer pressure. When I was 14, she had just graduated high school, and we were both staying at our grandparents’ house for the summer. We went camping with some friends and they brought out some alcohol. When they offered it to me, I said no. They started to make fun of me, pressure me, but Lisa stopped them in their tracks. “She said no, and you will respect that.” Years later, I told her how much that had helped me, and she said that she didn’t really have someone like that in her life, and she wanted to make sure I did.
Her heart was overflowing in generosity. She loved fiercely, passionately. When I was pregnant with my son, wrought with anxiety because all I had known up to that point was pregnancy loss, she sent me a journaling Bible with a set of colored pencils. It has brought me so much comfort, especially in these last few weeks.
The greatest comfort to me was her relationship with God. She and I had so many conversations in the last few years about faith in God, and hers was incredibility strong. She was so loved, and she loved so much. I still look up to her and want to be just like her. I will miss our conversations. I will miss her hugs and laugh and even the eye-rolls. I will miss her passion. I will miss her. I love you so much Lisa.