And in 2013, Cohen was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor.
Although I often have myself convinced that I have come to terms with it, I haven't and I don't think I ever will. Most days I talk to Cohen and am thankful for her still intact personality and sense of humor, but today I have just felt sad.
I try to limit my days of sadness because I know Cohen wouldn't want me to be sad for her. Despite the surgeries, the chemotherapy, the radiation, the stroke, the rehabilitation, the vision loss, and everything else she has been through since her diagnosis, she is strong. She is resilient. She has an unwavering faith in God that inspires me. Even in her illness, she is still more concerned about everyone else than she is about herself.
And today, I felt the sadness creeping in.
I miss my best friend. We try to talk at least once a day when she is feeling up to it. I want to know how she is feeling. I want to know how things are going in her life. I want to bridge the gap that is between us since I moved to Ohio.
Today, I saw a blog post on Facebook from a site called lifewiththefrog.com. The blog is written by a wife and mother of four boys who lost her six-year-old son to a brain tumor a couple years ago. Reading her story brought back those familiar feelings of sadness and anger that I felt the day Cohen called me and told me the doctors finally had a diagnosis - a rare brain tumor known as an oligodendroglioma grade II. My husband and I were on our way to watch my brother play baseball when we got the call. I broke down in the car. People that close to me didn't get sick, did they? Surely they didn't get brain tumors? Certainly Cohen, my Cohen, couldn't possibly have a brain tumor?
The months that followed were hard. Cohen underwent two major brain surgeries and I had the privilege to be right there next to her the whole way. I even convinced a nurse to bring a bed into her hospital room so I could sleep right next to her. She had been my "protector" for years - it was my turn to do the same for her.
It wasn't until a couple weeks later that I got a call from Cohen's stepfather. He delivered the devastating news to me - Cohen's tumor was terminal. And in the midst of this tragedy, my beloved grandmother passed away a couple months after Cohen's brain surgery. Cohen and I had spent a lot of time with my grandmother while we were in college since she lived close. We were like the three musketeers. And Cohen was there at my grandmother's funeral, her hair slowly growing back over her freshly scarred head. Even in her illness, she was there for me.
Cohen remained optimistic and hopeful. Her amazing faith in God is what has helped me cope with her diagnosis. I mean, if Cohen has come to terms with this, then why can't I!? This past summer, her slow-growing tumor started growing again and caused her to have a stroke. She lost most of her vision and spent a lot of time in the hospital and in rehabilitation. I was able to spend a lot of time with her in the hospital. Despite the stroke, Cohen was still Cohen. We laughed. We reminisced. I sat with her at meal time and fed her her lunch. Those were precious times with her that I will cherish forever.
I was able to visit Cohen a few weeks ago and take her to lunch. We went to one of our favorite places that we always used to go to in college and on road trips (we have taken A LOT of road trips over the years). I helped her find a seat, folded up her walker, and went and ordered our favorite things off the menu. As I helped her eat, we caught up and talked about our favorite memories. Her long term memory is impeccable. I love talking about the summer after our freshman year of high school and the many nights we spent out on the lake swimming and talking about life. I love talking about our road trip to North Carolina our senior year of college or our trip to Boston the year after we graduated from college.
We have lived so much life together.
So today I have felt sad. I feel sad and angry that brain tumors exist in this world. I feel sad and angry that Cohen has this illness. After we graduated from college, she had plans to travel the world and use her journalism degree. She was full of life and I hope every single day that God heals her. I pray that God gives her the chance to live out her dreams. And I selfishly hope that God let's me have my best friend back. She's my person.
We have a saying that we've been quoting to each other for years -
"We're still perfect. Immaculate."
|Halloween 2005, our junior year of high school.|
|Getting ready for "girls' day," November 2014. Cohen had just finished her chemo and radiation treatments.|