Thursday, October 17, 2013

Remembering Della

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The month to think pink and have faith for a cure. 
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Latinas. Even though Latinas have lower breast cancer rates than white women, they are more likely than whites to be diagnosed at a later stage, when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat. Latinas are also more likely to die from breast cancer than white women diagnosed at a similar age and stage.  

The other day I was scrolling through my phone, trying to clear out space by deleting photos, messages and apps I don't use. I came across a text message I couldn't delete. It was from my friend, Della.   

Aside from a few photos, a signature in my yearbook, memories and her funeral prayer card - that text is all that I have left. And I'm not ready to let it go. It still doesn't see real. Or fair. Della was too young to die (only 38). She had a daughter. A mother. Family. Friends.  

Back in June, my blog friend Shell of Things I Can't Say allowed me to guest post  and I decided to write about one of the last times I saw Della alive. 

(note: when I originally wrote the post, I changed Della's name to Martha.) 


“Remember the picture of us on the field?” Martha asked. “I love that picture. It’s one of my favorites.”

I remembered. It was taken twenty years earlier, on the last day of senior year. I wore a blue and white floral shirt, she proudly wore our senior class t-shirt, my arm around her shoulder, both of us smiling into the camera, our yearbooks in our laps.

We were just girls then, with bright eyes, big smiles and bigger dreams. We believed we had our whole lives ahead us. It was a time without boundaries or regrets. Before responsibility, motherhood, disability and sickness.

We were girls who didn’t know the years between then and now would go so fast. We didn’t see ourselves, twenty years later, sitting in a hospice room on a Saturday afternoon.

“It’s one of my favorites too,” I said.

She smiled. “I looked healthy.”

I said nothing, not wanting to agree but we both knew Martha was right. I looked away ashamed that I put off seeing her for weeks. But I was scared. I had never visited anyone at a hospice before. I hadn’t seen Martha in a little more than a year. But I knew the breast cancer spread to her brain. And I knew that Martha had little time left.

You can read the rest click -->  Just Breathe 


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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.