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Robert Brault once said, “If you knew that hope and despair were paths to the same destination, which would you choose?”
One of my very dear friends lost her father to cancer about a year ago. I’ve talked to hundreds of people about cancer- my mom’s friends and people I’ve met along the way- but never have I talked face to face with a teen who’s parent had cancer until I met this friend in college.
She was my roommate during our recent semester abroad and we frequently talked about kids “like us,” kids who grew up in the cancer world. The one-year anniversary of her father’s death was coming up and she was having a horrible time coping. I had no idea how to help her- I still had my mom and she had lost her dad. I could relate to her in a lot of ways, but I had no idea what it was like to lose a parent, and I had no idea what to say to her.
During one of our talks, my friend told me that she was terrified she would be depressed forever. I told her about the doctor telling my family that Mom’s diagnosis could either be the best thing that has ever happened to us or the thing that would ruin our lives, it was our choice. So I told her that she could choose to be ok. Tears streaming down her face, my friend told me she couldn’t.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose my mom or dad. My world would be shattered. The only advice I had to offer was to tell my friend that she would be ok one day; she just had to trust me. I’ve never met my friend’s father, but I know that anyone who has been touched by cancer is a fighter. I know that my parents have equipped me with everything I need to survive and live life to the fullest, and I know that my friend’s parents have too.
Grief is something that we experience because we love someone with immeasurable depth. When we lose that someone, we feel completely alone and crying can become the only way to deal with the emptiness we feel. Sometimes it’s just easier to be sad. But what we must remember is that we can choose to be ok, it just takes a little time. We cannot control the circumstances but we can live with a smile, knowing that the people we love surround us every single day of our lives because they are inside of us. They are us, in every breath, every step, and every way. Knowing that will make everything ok.