My cousin Crystal died Saturday morning.
She was 48.
After a brutal battle with breast cancer, she could fight no longer.
The final days of her life were spent in a bedroom with her sister, my cousin, Roxanne, who is also dying.
The doctors say she will likely die before Christmas.
Both of my beautiful cousins will die from breast cancer.
I spoke with my aunt at length on the phone today.
She alternated between tremendous strength and overwhelming sadness.
She begged me to be careful. She spoke of breast self exams and mammograms.
We talked of her loss…both of her children.
Crystal has two children, both in their early 20s, neither of whom have children of their own yet.
As I try to comprehend what they are feeling, I can’t help but think of my own children.
And my aunt’s words echo in my ear…breast self exams and mammograms.
“Vigilent,” she said, “you must be vigilant.”
She spoke of cancer that had reached Crystal’s bones and finally her brain.
I think of my aunt and what she must feel when she’s trying to fall asleep at night.
Both of her children. Taken from her.
We should not outlive our children.
My heart is truly heavy.