i don’t remember much from the first year of Coop being sick. i only remember super big moments like my high school graduation, Cooper had just been released from the hospital and was in isolation, meaning no one came in our house and Coop didn’t leave unless he was going to the doctors. his immune system was very weak so he could get sick easily, because of this he could not attend my graduation. luckily we had a very close family friend who was able to stay with him and take care of him so that my parents were able to attend the big day. 

its situations like this that i look back and try to digest how i was feeling.

because quite honestly even though it was MY graduation day, it was never about me. as a cancer sibling the light is never on you. you are constantly in the shadow of cancer.

the common questions you get asked as a sibling of someone going through cancer are something like,  

“hows coop doing?”

“how are your parents?”

“whens his treatment done?”

“does your family need anything?”

“does Coop need anything?”

i was never really asked how i was doing and thats no ones fault, it just wasn’t about me even when i needed it to be. thats one of the sacrifices you make when you try to assemble a puzzle thats not fitting together just right. the puzzle that was our family, all perfect and put together lovely, was suddenly broken. it was ripped apart and all the pieces were spread out unevenly. all six of us desperately trying to figure out how to put it back together all while knowing with everything in us that our puzzle could finish with one less piece. 


before we dive into what life after loss looks like i should probably tell you how i got to that place.

january 31st, 2013 

after 2 months of my cooper being sick with any cold, flu, or tonsillitis you could think of he would be diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia of the B-cells. i was just starting my second semester of my senior year of high school, i remember the 31st fell on a thursday because the next day was the big assembly that i was apart of… 

my parents and cooper had been gone all day when i finally got a text that said “we found out whats wrong with coop, we’ll be home soon”. i remember pacing back and forth through the empty house all by myself conjuring up all the possibilities of what could be wrong. the garage opened and in walked my parents and cooper, who was covered in hospital gear, and their faces red from tears. 

my step dad and coop went into his room to pack as my mom and i stood in the kitchen as she tried to explain to me what was wrong with cooper. i heard “leukemia” and thought “okay well what does that even mean?” and then i heard “blood cancer”. i still hear those words very clearly. i fell to floor immediately, because what else do you do but sob when you find out your 15 year old brother has cancer? immediately a million questions start racing through my mind, why are you packing? who is leaving? is he going to be okay? how long will this go on? will he be super sick? and the big one, will he die?

we went to the hospital where cooper would stay on and off for nearly 6 months. i remember being in the waiting room and having to call my sisters, julia and jenna. i remember julia specifically asking me, “will we be okay”. not will cooper be okay, will WE be okay. thats when i decided it was time to figure out how to be okay under these circumstances. 

january 31st, 2013 the day that changed the entire path of my life.