By RENISSA MCLAUGHLIN
SPECIAL TO THE ONE FEATHER
Those of us who have existed with loved ones who have been diagnosed with cancer are somewhat knowledgeable about the different stages which are complex. When we met with my sister’s specialists, she told us that she knew she was at stage IV. She had done her research; knew her body; and unfortunately, she was right. She was family, the love was unconditional, and it has only grown in her absence.
When we have new relationships, like our friendships, it is a different kind of love. You don’t have to be born into familial relationships. They can evolve and move through different stages. When I first met Becky Walker, our relationship grew quickly, from acquaintances with similar interests and then one day, I was her sister. I don’t recall the exact time frame or how long it took but we had a shift. We moved through the stages of a relationship to one that transcended friendship. I was her sister. She was mine.
While our friendship may not have been choreographed, Becky’s work and words always were. Throughout her battle with cancer, she would ask her family and friends to gather. We would paint, sew, and laugh. Looking back at these women gatherings, I know they were with purpose. Not everyone who attended these events were related but we became related through our shared experiences.
In the days and nights before Becky left this world, we would sit on her mother Amy’s porch and talk. There was something about that porch, those moments of letting down our walls and telling and listening. I don’t recall when it happened but calling each other by name faded quickly. It was simply and with love, sister. “Thank you, sister – I love you, sister – How are you, sister…”.
Each day that passes, I am less concerned about the stages of cancer. I am embracing my grief and searching for clarity. I am not so consumed in anger over an illness that has taken two of my sisters. Rather, I am learning more about myself and about the people that are dear to me. Becky told me that she dreamt I would be in her life long before we met. She also told her mother that relationships were important, and they had to be nurtured. This was her truth, and this is our truth.
Compassion – Thoughtfulness – Sharing our Truth without Judgement – Selflessness
These are the stages of love.