Surviving Cancer and Loss...In Memory of...

Surviving cancer and loss

Living through the immense fog of grief and loss over the last year has had me on my knees. A year ago I lost my beloved grandfather, then four days later I had received a text from a dear friend.  The tumors were cancer. Stage four breast cancer.  There I was awaiting my darling daughter to twirl out of ballet and here rolls in the fog.  What do you say, or do?  I unfortunately was on the next plane out to go to a funeral-  I just shut down.  Thinking back, I recall little if anything up to Thanksgiving last year.  I just lived the motions, but I didn't feel.  While my dear friend was fighting with chemo, I disconnected with everyone- even her. Simply because I didn't know what to do, and I didn't know what to say or even how to say it. Looking back, I regret that the most.  Thankfully her mother connected with me and told me I just needed to let her know I was there. This is where I finally emerged from the darkness...

Becky, lovingly known as Bek, was an avid baker and talented cake maker.  Her creations were loved by big and small and really anyone who had taste buds- they were that good. A doting mother to two wonderful daughters, Rylie 7 and Kynzie 6, She was one of those women.  Volunteered in the classroom, brought treats for the amazing teachers and staff, stayed up late to make every moment count.  Being around her made you want to be a better mother, friend and of course, baker.  She always had time to listen and was a dear friend to probably many more people than even she knew.  And her daughters, her sweet, sweet daughters were the light that anchored her soul here- she lived for them.  She was 38 when she was diagnosed.

Immediately  following the diagnosis, she started chemo and that is when angels in all forms flooded to her.  She had just started a job with the Catholic schools as an aide; in her words "a dream job". She got to be with her babies everyday. Not miss a lunch or presentation- it was perfect.  When the news followed her absence, an abundance of love and support encircled her and her family.  Families took turns bringing dinners, signed up for prayer circles, took up a collection for cleaning, and tied together bracelets of hope and courage.  There wasn't a day that went by that I did not give her daughters a hug or high five, along with the other mothers and fathers who lined the gate of the school. You could feel the love.

I started texting her to see how she was feeling, and when I saw her " green dot" on Facebook we would chat.  I wanted to do my best to let her know I was there, and above all that I loved her.  Everyone that loved Bek was doing something, and everything they did mattered.  She was in pain, and it was hard for her to walk so I didn't get to see her much.  I wanted to do more... but then again there was nothing I could do but love her, pray and hug her babies.

I recall the day I saw her after she had finished chemo, and started hormone treatment. I didn't recognize her, I just hugged her and I cried, like a big baby.  I apologized and hugged her and cried some more. God, how I missed her smile and her laughter.  Her ability to laugh at me and with me, and that is the first time I knew what say, " I love you so much!"  She started coming back to school, and dropping off her babies.  We would gather in the front of the school and talk, like we would do a year before.  I never said goodbye, or asked her what I could do anymore, after all she wasn't the type to ask for help or tell you, so I just told her, I loved her.

Again, I was in a fog but not of grief but of realization. How blessed I was- I am. How my health and body needed to take a front seat, how I needed to make every moment count, and above all, to say I love you.  To live, to love, to give and be open to receiving.  To make time,  because after all the little things really do matter.  To surround myself with loving people and positive energy.

Through Becky's fight, I re-learned  how to live.

Everyone was so loving and so supportive. Whether it be playdates,  birthday parties or just simple smiles, she knew she was loved and heavily prayed for.  She regained her strength daily and started appearing back in the school volunteering and joining the girls for lunch.  She was a beacon of hope, of light, and the essence of a mother's love.  She had hoped her body would continue to heal so she could start back to work this fall- that was a personal goal of hers.

As summer was in full swing,  visits with friends and family were abundant. A birthday party for her nephew, a multitude of play dates and invites for her daughters, and of course an invitation to my daughter's  birthday.  When she arrived weeks later for the party, she didn't look like the Becky I knew from a few months ago,.. She was fighting hard.  I recall watching her children watch over her,.. Brings tears to my eyes even now. How endearing they were to her, and she to them,.. A love like-I have never seen,... Two weeks later she was gone.

The world lost an angel, heaven gained one.  We lost a friend, a very dear and special friend. Two small children lost their mother-  everyone lost her, even those who didn't know her.  Her funeral was on a Saturday, school started that Monday.  Daily, when I drop my babies off at school I am reminded of her, as  her daughters walk in a single file line as grandma draws a sweet smile across her face for them. It hurts, it hurts everyone.  It has put us in a very uncomfortable place of reality.  That our sweet Becky, 39 is gone- it could be us.  Our children could have lost their mother.  So it makes it very real and cuts very deep and above all makes each and everyone of us look closer at ourselves our choices and our health.

I've learned so much from Becky's fight, lessons  I couldn't have learned any other way perhaps.  Things I wasn't aware of or willing to change until I saw her fighting for her life.  Out of the heartbreak and devastation, I learned how powerful "I love you" really is. I could have never prepared myself for the loss of this amazing woman, because she never gave up. Surviving after loss, after cancer has ripped life from someone you love,  is a journey.

There are no right words or actions,  just love. The love that engulfed her from the moment of her diagnosis supported the time she fought so hard to get better, and every moment was for her daughters. Every moment. The simple things that were done out of love gave her the strength to fight one more day until her body couldn't fight anymore.

Now, we move forward slowly- At times it feels like the world is on fast forward and my feet never touch the ground as I try to keep up.  I take deeper breaths and my movements are made with thought through intentions.  I kiss my kids goodnight even after they are fast asleep, I tell everyone who is important to me that I love them, and  I will never forget how important all the little things are. Like when I snuggle my son as he creeps quietly into my room at night when all is still and I gently rub the tiny crease on his ear.  I now spend the majority of my energy focusing on life's sweet things.

Becky's legacy is her daughters and the memories she left them. The vast pictures of her smiling face gently watching over her daughters in the sand box, on the swings and the girls favorite, in the pool.  Her light shines around them when they smile- and if you look close enough you can see Becky in their eyes, smiling back at you. Even though her body is at rest her spirit lives on as she still watches over her little girls, and always will.

Take care of yourself and when you have the opportunity... say I Love you.

In loving memory of Becky- a fund has been set up at Yellowstone Bank for her daughters, her mother Radene Ostwald cares for their account.

Live- Loving Everyday!