I apologize in advance if this is a little all over the place. I just felt that I needed to share this with you today.
Have you ever taken a book off of it's shelf to find all sorts of dust and cobwebs on it? That's what I am doing today...taking down a book of sorts and opening it to share with all of you.
So many of you know what my family has been through these past couple of years and you have all been such an amazing group of friends! Today I woke up feeling a lot of the pressure that I tend to shrug off and tuck away on it's shelf. I have these days every now and then. It's usually triggered by seeing something that reminds me of my sister. This month it's triggered by the overwhelming amount of pink I see in support of my mother and the millions of women (and men) affected by breast cancer. Whatever the trigger may be, these days are sometimes unbearable.
For those of you who don't know, I will share a small amount of our story.
It was December 15 and I was headed to the airport. I was visiting my boyfriend and his family for the holiday's. My mom and my oldest sister Kristen drove me to the airport along with my nephew Gabe. Kristen and I shared a common interest at the time and that was Glee! We sang along to the soundtrack the entire way to the airport. We enjoyed making fools of ourselves because we always did it together. Standing in line waiting to go through security I couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right. I have flown countless times by myself so I knew that couldn't be it. Kristen did her best to console me. I was crying and I didn't know why. "Ashley, everything will be ok. Be happy! I love you". She hugged me so tightly (she was known for that) and kissed me on my cheek. I said goodbye to my mom and my nephew and I was off. I received a phone call at 6:00 in the morning the next day. My sister was gone. One day after her 34th birthday. I was stunned. That day was the longest day of my life. I was on the phone most of it, talking to my loved ones back home and struggling with my airline trying to get back home. My boyfriend flew out with me the next morning. I know that God had me away from home for a reason. He gave me my time alone to grieve my loss and fly home to be strong for my family. For that I am thankful. I was also able to say goodbye to her. Our last words to each other were I love you. I wouldn't trade that for the world.
7 months later my mom went to her doctors office with severe back pain. For my mom, this was a big deal. She is the strongest woman I know and nothing ever knocks her off her feet. The doctor told my dad that he should take her to the hospital for further tests.
They diagnosed her that day with stage IV breast cancer. The next few months that followed were a nightmare. She was in intense pain, going through radiation soon to be followed by chemotherapy. It's been a little over a year since her diagnosis and she is an absolute trooper! She has her days where she's tired and doesn't feel like doing much. But she also has her days where she's full of energy and spontaneity! Just like usual and I love her for it. She keeps the rest of us positive! We know God has His hands on our family and this is why I wanted to share our story with you.
I can't count how many times someone has come up to me and asked me how we do it. "How do you keep from giving up?".
1) We have each other. We have always been incredibly close and the trials we have gone through have only made us tougher.
2) We have an incredible support system! You guys have been such a joy in our lives and we can't thank you enough for the love you have shown us!
3) God - I don't know how people get by without him. He is our Stronghold!
4) There is always someone who has it worse than we do.
I would be lying if I said I didn't have my difficult days. But happiness wouldn't seem quite so sweet if we didn't have the sadness to compare it to. So for those of you who are struggling with loss and deep hurt...remember that you are not alone. Our prayers are with you daily!
I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me
~ Philippians 4:13