Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Remains

When I first decided to write this post for today I thought to myself “Wait. This year has sucked. Why should I be thankful for one of the most difficult years for my life?” Honestly I think it’s a valid question, but I’ll forego the philosophical reflection for another time. However, there most certainly are times in all of our lives that we really need to search for something to be thankful for. For me, this is one of those times.

There’s a saying popular among the gentry here in upstate NY where hard times fall and fall often. “When it rains, it pours.” It seems 2010 has been a monsoon. It all started in early January when I lost a good friend of mine at the ripe old age of 20. She had been sick for most of her life and when she passed away I didn’t even know that she had been back in the hospital for a few months. It was a harsh reminder to not take the ones you love for granted. About a month later a girl I had grown up with since I was 3 died in a snowmobile accident. We were never super close but we had been friends. She had a great laugh. I saw her sister a couple weeks after the funeral and about had a heart attack. They were so much alike.

Things seemed to get better for a while. I had a good spring semester, solid grades, and produced some of my best work to date. Then it happened again. I was sitting next to my mother when she got the call. I knew something was very wrong. At first I thought “Grandma” but what I could hear from the conversation soon eliminated that thought. “Is Jill ok?”, I heard her ask. “No. It can’t be.” I thought. “It’s either Uncle Bobby or one of the boys. Oh, God.” That day I was the one who had to make the phone calls that no one ever expects to make. As I talked to each one of my siblings in turn I felt much older than 22. The few days that followed are now a blur of emotions. The only thing that kept us all from losing it completely was each other. My mom had lost her oldest brother, my grandmother has lost a son, and I felt so helpless. How could I even begin to try and comfort them?

A week or two after that an aunt of mine was in a freak car accident. She was fine, but had to have skin grafts. By now things were starting to look like someone was pulling a cruel joke on my family and I. “Haven’t we had enough?” I shouted to the cosmos, shaking my fist in the air. Apparently not.

On October 5th, after an entirely frustrating day in the lab I came home hoping to eat some comfort food and relax in the tub in order to find some sense of peace. My mind was addled. I couldn’t get any of my work to turn out right, and my mom had left me a voicemail earlier in the day that had unsettled me. I was feeling very anxious and I just wanted to forget things for a while. But when I got home my dad asked me a strange question.

“Did your mother talk to you about Allison?”

“No. I talked to Al earlier though. Why?”

“The biopsy came back….”

“What is he talking about? What biopsy? I don’t understand”. My mind raced through these thoughts just in time to hear him say:

“It’s cancer.”

So, lets recap. This year I have lost two friends and an uncle, and now my sister has breast cancer. This year has been nothing but SUCK. So seriously, what do I have to be thankful for? The universe seems intent on breaking down any sense of security or comfort I have come to know. I mean after all of this, what’s left?


Family. Through all of this they have been there. They always have. Sometimes it’s so easy to feel all alone. Like you’re the only one who knows what pain really feels like. But family does. No one can feel empathy like family because the pain that you feel, they feel too. When you hurt, they hurt. When you’re scared they’re scared with you. But even though they don’t have the answers and they feel just as messed up as you, they will always be there. And that’s enough.

Today I am thankful for these people. I am thankful that they’re my family. I am thankful that they’re always there for me, and that I’m there for them. I am thankful to know them. I am thankful that they simply exist, because knowing that we’re in this together is everything.

Check out more of Amy's writing at I Am Amy Fran.


  1. Amy, this is such an incredible post. It brought tears to my eyes. Hoping 2011 is a much happier year!

  2. I'm in tears myself. I'm so happy you have somehow found the strength to get through all this and have found something to be grateful for. Sucks having to go through awful things, especially SO many all at once, but knowing that you aren't going thru it alone does make a comforting difference. Wishing you a more positive 2011!


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