Lessons from Abby

My strong, beautiful and brave little cousin Abby became an angel last week after her nearly 1.5 year battle with cancer. Words do not suffice but she was such a fighter. 

Though It hurts like heck that she couldn't stay here earth-side with us, she saw to it that her family and friends would receive a little bit of consolation by leaving us a series of letters ... That in and of itself speaks to the big-hearted, caring and compassionate person she was. 

To give a little background about Abby, she was loved beyond measure and sweet as can be. She was an amazing person and writer. She was strong and boy, was she intelligent. Toward the tail end of her battle, she was able to find out that she'd received multiple college acceptances and full four-year scholarships. She embodied all that a good person should. 

That's just a tidbit about our Abby. I could seriously go on and on about how much she reminded me of myself. Though she considered me a big sis and looked up to me, for the last 1.5 years I have looked up to her, and now, I forever will. 

In her honor, I'd like to share three of the most important life lessons Abby taught me:

1. Perspective is important.

"This is just like any other obstacle in life. It hurts and it's hard. It has the power to break me but I won't let it."- Abby

Back in October 2016, I woke up to an ominous text from my brother in the middle of the night before my second or third day back to work after maternity leave. He spoke about visiting Abby in the emergency room ... I texted and called to find out details. The possibility of the dreaded "C" word (cancer) was thrown out there. My heart stopped. My thoughts immediately shifted from being anxious over my first week back at work as a mom to concern for my little cousin's health. I regretfully never told her (because I did not know how to) but she helped me with my transition back in a way I could never really articulate. I'd gone from having anxiety attacks over my return to feeling grateful that I had a baby and a job to go back to because my worry was now not about leaving my baby for work but rather whether my baby cousin did indeed have cancer and whether she would survive... She helped me then and will always help me now to keep things in perspective. 

2. Live life fully.

"Cancer sucks but I won't let it get in the way of me living my life-- if anything, it's pushed me to do more." - Abby

Abby did not stop living, not even when her life here on Earth was almost up. She made sure to travel as much as she could; had a boyfriend; went to Sweet 16s, concerts and the movies; continued going to school up until recently; wrote in her journals; and attended as many family gatherings as she could. She applied to colleges and was looking as forward to the experience as she could. She was her sweet and sassy self through and through. I will try my best to follow in her footsteps and remind myself to seize every opportunity, make the most of everyday, and love wholeheartedly. 

3. Smile everyday.

"I promise myself I'll smile everyday." - Abby

When Abby was first diagnosed with cancer, she promised herself she'd smile everyday. And that she did. She remained optimistic and not once did I hear her complain about what she was going through. She preferred to rock her shaved head with a smile and without a wig, and she was still the most beautiful ever, realizing that beauty wasn't defined by our hair or other physical features but by our humanity. She laughed and smiled throughout it all... and now whenever I feel like I'm having a bad moment or day, I will remember to smile despite whatever it is that's bothering me. 

Abby, thank you. For teaching me more in your 18 years than others have. For being proud of me. For being you. 

You will be loved and missed everyday, Abs. At last you are not suffering. 

1 comment