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Remembering My Grandmother Who Passed from Breast Cancer, The “I” my “Y”

May Zaben on her story of dealing with her grandmother’s cancer and their relationship.

I – of all people – forgot that October was breast cancer awareness month. How could I forget? Especially when my dear grandmother passed away from breast cancer.
I still feel grief when I think of her, even though I never knew her. But I also feel happy, thinking about who she was, who she could have been.
When I think about who she was, I think of white orchids. I think about the mango tree that died days after she did; it probably loved her too much to live on without her. I am constantly on the lookout for things that touched her, things she loved. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer today; because she loved it, too.
When I think about who she could have been, I think I’d just hug her, ask her questions. I’d ask her how much it hurt, the cancer. I’d ask her what she held to feel safe, to feel loved. I’d ask her to open her brown eyes and cast their light on me. I’d beg her to stay despite the pain. I’d cry and ask her not to let go, but that would have been too selfish. I understand her wound hurt too much and she had to let go. She had no choice but to. God relieved her pain when those beautiful browns closed. That’s what keeps me at bay today.

If you lost someone to cancer,

I’m sorry. My heart is with you.

I send you faraway hugs, and I ask you to remember your beloved person who passed with glee.

Remember the good parts.

As for who they could have been,

Carry them with you… that’s all you could ever hope to be.

I’ll do the same with Mai. That was her name: Mai with an “I”, mine’s with a “Y”. That’s much cooler, in my opinion (no offence, Mai). Just know I love you. I always will, and I’ll always, always carry your “I” with my “Y” forever. That’s a promise.

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