My cousin R would have been 38 this week, if she hadn't died earlier this year.
Writing about her is harder than writing about an author or public figure you've all heard of. Nobody who reads this knew her. Hell, most of my memories of her are when I was a kid visiting my aunt, playing Atari Bowling with her or keeping my grandmother company when she was in and out of the nursing home.
But she wasn't that much older than me, and she died of cancer. She'd noticed the lump, but didn't do anything about it until it had spread. She spent a year getting chemo and radiation. Her mother is one of the most giving and genuine Catholics I know, and she didn't deserve to watch her daughter die. I suppose no parent deserves that, but if anybody I know warranted a miracle, it was her.
The first new year of the season is coming up in October, and it'll be time to pay her tribute and wish her well and let her go. It's hard, harder than I expected. I still struggle with it, more often than I expect to. I'm looking forward to that closure, but I think her birthday will be one I remember every year.
In her name and in her memory, I beg you, don't let your health concerns go. If you can, if you have any kind of insurance or clinic or option, please, get yourself checked if you think something's wrong. A mammogram might have saved her life. It's very likely one saved mine. Don't hold off.