cancer · love · my sister · unconditional love

The day the world stood still

Knowing something will happen is different from it actually happening. There are some situations in life, that no matter how prepared you think you are, you fumble when you get there.

Going into this battle with my sister, we knew the most probably outcome. I had mentally talked myself up a million times between her surgery Monday and the diagnosis of that one small spot. You got this. No matter what the doctor  walks in and says, you will hold your shoulders up, dig in and work on the game plan with the doctors. Up to this point, I had accompanied my sister to most appointments, her back surgery, etc. My sister had signed papers so that I could be included in her medical care/choices. I was her “health partner”. Such a silly term. I became better known as “Krystal’s sister”.  I always asked the doctors to wait for me. I didn’t want her to be alone if they dropped a bomb in her lap.

That morning was, what would turn into normal for us. Her in the hospital, me in the chair next to her bed. She had just had brain surgery. But she bounced right back. Amazingly resilient. That was my sister. She’d get knocked down. BUT she never stayed down. I had to leave to go home and pump. My youngest was exclusively breast milk-fed. She cracked a couple of jokes, I left.

Once I was home, I hooked up to my pump, turned on Netflix and started eating a sandwich. As soon as I was done, I would go back up to the hospital. 20 minutes in, the phone rang. It was my sister.

“(intense sobbing) Kate (gasping for air) (shaking voice)(mumbling) Stage 4…”

“I’m on the way”

I rushed back. I was so angry. What the fuck kind of doctor tells someone when they are alone. I’m not there. What the hell? I left long enough to pump and eat! Don’t break down. Get to the hospital.

I didn’t stop at the front desk. I didn’t take the elevator. My big ass ran up the stairs. My sister was alone. My sister was in pain. I got to the room. As I climbed into her bed, I saw her twin and his wife sitting off to the side. She hadn’t been alone. But I wasn’t there. I felt like a failure.

The world stopped.

We held each other. Entangled on her bed.

Wailing. Weeping. My baby…oh god…not my baby…not my sweat pea. Not mine. NO. There was no air. My chest constricted. For those few moments my brain couldn’t even register how to breathe.

Then my brain flipped a switch. Instantly my tears stopped. Failure was not an option. She needed me. I pulled up my shoulders. I held her. I let her melt into me. She cried the most wounded sounds I have ever heard. My back got straighter. If there was ever a time she needed me it was now. I had to put my feelings on pause. I held her tighter. Kissed her forehead a dozen times.

“I got you. No matter what, I got you. I promise.”

The rest of the world resumed. But part of my mind remained frozen in that point in time for the following year and a half. Sitting here today, it hurts just as much as it did that day. My whole world was crashing. I had to let go and be there. So I stashed it away to be sad another today. Another day when she wouldn’t need me anymore.

Love is the most horrible magnificent experience we can have in our life.

To feel unconditional love for another person truly is earth shattering.

We can gain strength to get through our worst nightmares with the love we give one another.

Often times, I believe people only look to romantic love for this feeling. I assure you, those feelings can be found in non-romantic love.

My sister’s love gave me the strength and courage I needed to love her through it.

My love gave her a backbone to fight as hard as she could, as long as she could.

My sister’s love is now plentiful memories to look on, so she can love me through this.



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