When something this devastating happens I think your brain goes into preservation mode. You have to remember to breathe. Focus on the small things. Ignore the big things. Distract yourself. It’s not that I’ve never lost someone. I have. It’s that I’ve never lost someone quite so important to me. I suppose I should consider myself incredibly lucky – but feeling lucky is hard right now.

May 3rd is a day I will never forget. That was the day that everything changed. That was the day the bottom fell out. That was the day we lost Tish. Tish LaRelle Hurst. My cousin, dear, dear friend and partner in crime.

She loved you with her whole self. She was the embodiment of spirit. She was an instigator. She was outspoken and proud. She was beautiful. She was headstrong. She was bossy…because she loved you. She gave great hugs. She was a kisser. Her laugh…there was nothing like it. It made you proud of whatever you did or said that inspired it. She was a center of gravity. She was my idol. She was the mother to three of the most beautiful and spiritful little girls you’ll ever see.

Just a couple of years ago…2011. My how they grow!

How do you lose someone like that? How do you come to terms with the fact that they’re actually gone? Right now I’m not sure I can. I’m honestly not sure I even want to. There’s some part of me  that thinks that the longer I can stay in this devastated and confused state that she might actually come back. If I leave it and begin to heal then I’m somehow forsaking her, leaving her behind in some way. I know that is not rational. Feelings aren’t rational.

Even writing this feels weird. There are words I have a hard time using whether in print or out-loud. Death. That’s the worst one. My stomach literally turns. Funeral. That is a hard one. Obituary. Hard. Grave-site. Hard. All of them. Saying them out-loud causes a visceral reaction. And now, Cancer. Cancer is a word that feels different than it used to. I hear it and it’s like someone just clenched their fist around my heart. It’s always been a shitty word, but now it’s raw and vicious.

The thing of it is, I’m not alone. Everyone who ever loved her is feeling the same way right now. Everyone who has ever lost someone has felt this way. I never know what to say. I’m sure I’m always saying the wrong thing although there probably isn’t a right thing. I feel bad if I’m not crying. I feel bad if I’m always crying. Sometimes looking at her picture is so overwhelming I…I just can’t. Then other times I literally want nothing more than to scroll through albums for hours on end. Lay on the floor and reminisce and cry and laugh.

…My point is, I suppose, that grief is a personal and unique experience for everyone and I have no idea what I’m doing. The only thing I know for certain is what she would want.

She would want us to put on our big girl pants and carry on.

She was pouring her heart into the Relay For Life fundraiser we’d been planning since last year. For her, for every other soul battling this horrible disease, we keep going. For every other loved one who has ever had the air literally sucked from their chest when they heard “those” words we keep going.

The number of people being diagnosed with cancer on the daily is staggering. Just breast cancer alone….1 in 8 women will get that awful news. One. In. Eight. Overall breast cancer survival rates are improving. Largely due to awareness around early detection (the best chance for a cure) and improved treatment technologies. Relay For Life is the fundraising arm of the American Cancer Society. Tish was passionate about finding a cure for breast cancer and she was passionate about Relay For Life. So we carry on holding high her flag.

Last year our team raised nearly $10,000 with your help. We’re on track for a similar year this year with hope. With your help we can get there again. If you feel compelled please visit my page and make a donation or give this a share. Shoot, honestly even if we didn’t raise another dime but we helped increase awareness around early detection I’d call that a win so if you cannot or do not feel called to donate – please do share in the spirit that one more person might realize the impact of early detection. We’ve got about two weeks left for this years Relay. Getting to the Relay is just the start. I expect many amazing things from the events this year!

Our WFCT team from last year’s Relay For Life. Love.