CPN | Showing up

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Showing up


I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a group of my close friends to talk about what it was like for them to watch our family go through the process of our youngest daughter being diagnosed with Cancer and then unexpectedly passing way.  Our conversation was recorded and developed into a podcast for Courageous Parents Network, and I have just listened to the podcast for the first time.  

[Listen Here]


As I sit here listening to the conversation I had with my friends, I am filled with so many emotions. Hearing my friends recall the most difficult time of my life, I feel grateful and supported, and also  lost and sad. Knowing they are still here willing to have this conversation 5 years later, I feel incredibly lucky to have such a  thoughtful, understanding and constant group of friends.


We moved to Worcester because it was where we could afford to buy a house.  We had no family here and had never spent any time here.  We chose our house based on the look of the neighborhood and the space that it offered.  We did not know that when we moved to “Burncoat” we would be gaining the biggest support system our family could have.  


When Sophia was diagnosed with Leukemia, our friends rallied. They chose to show up and then keep showing up.  They each showed up in their own way and somehow always knew what we needed. Some helped with the practical things – they made meals, helped with child care, helped with fundraising.  Some cried, sometimes with me and other times with their own families when I needed to be alone. Others brought wine, wrote cards,  and accepted that my way of coping was to keep moving forward, using humor and trying to keep things as normal as possible for our family.  


Five years later they are still showing up.  They still quietly let our family know they are thinking of us and they do not hesitate to mention Sophia’s name.  They include her in the conversations. Their children know how to talk to me about Sophia. They respect when our family needs to run away and hide.  


There are times that I am incredibly jealous of my friends as they send their three kids off to school or send out family christmas cards chronicling the growth of their family, while ours has only grown smaller.  There are days when I watch my friends’ children and see glimpses of what life with Sophia could be like today.  My friends understand this.


This year marks 5 years without her.   I struggled with what to do for her to mark this milestone anniversary.  I don’t know why I put such an emphasis on 5 years other than that in the world of cancer 5 years NED (no evidence of disease) is considered a cure.  Five years  was a time that I thought for sure we would be celebrating her survival.


In the months and weeks leading up to the date, my dreams of celebrating would not leave my mind.  I still had a desire to gather, to blow up balloons and celebrate her life.  I tried to reconcile the reality of our five years by considering a potentially more appropriate church service or memorial; but nothing seemed to stick.  


Having the opportunity to sit down with my friends with the sole intention of talking about Sophia and our shared experience through her life was exactly what I hadn’t known I needed.  While the night flew by in a flurry of anxiety and appreciation, having a recording of this conversation, these memories, that I can listen to over and over again, feels  like the perfect way to commemorate the 5 years we have lived without her and the very best way to continue to celebrate all that Sophia brought into our lives. I am grateful for the recording, and most of all, I am grateful to my friends and community that remember my girl with me.