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metamorphosis

Change flipping sucks.

I recently took the leap towards moving into a place of my own. During college I lived with my parents and then after I graduated I moved in with some family friends here in Naples. The opportunity arose to live with a close friend in an apartment and although I was hesitant given that it meant change, I took her up on the offer.

I remember a lot of my childhood, but I mostly remember the changes. My parents divorce, moves, my parents finding significant others, re-marrying, Cooper’s cancer diagnosis, and all the up’s and down’s that went with that. Every time something in my little world would change I would freeze up internally. I’d stay snug inside my cocoon, avoiding any chance of me becoming a butterfly. I had no desire to change, I just got comfortable as a caterpillar, why would I want to move on from that? For awhile I got away with avoiding the change or pushing the change away from me. But as we got thrown into a cancer diagnosis, change does not wait for you. Within 5 minutes of finding out Cooper had cancer, my mom and him were packing their bags to head to their new home, a hospital. Overnight my home went from a family of 6 to a family of 6 spread out between 3 homes. I didn’t get to accept the change, it was happening regardless.

I know that my experience of watching Cooper having cancer and holding him as he died was my metamorphosis phase, leading me into becoming a butterfly. But I’m pretty convinced we never leave the metamorphosis phase, because shortly after his death I’d crawl back into my cocoon hiding, but growing, from becoming a victim of a mass shooting. Maybe in some parts of our lives we are thriving, flying high and beautiful like the butterfly. Yet in other parts we are still in our cocoon’s not quite ready to reveal what change has does to us yet.

I am currently tucked away in my cocoon. Changing and growing. Some of the change I enjoy, and other parts are difficult. But nevertheless, I persist. Grief has taught me you don’t get to just stop life, it keeps going with or without you. That’s your choice, whether to continue on or not. Cooper taught me to always keep going, no matter what “cancer” your currently battling. He fought till the day he laid his hand in mine, and I’ll fight until the day I grab his hand in Heaven.

Maybe you need to hear how courageous it is to keep going. To get up every day when it’s hard to just be. As someone who’s been in the ring with death and in the ring with depression, I’ll tell you mental health is a harder battle to fight. It’s relentless, it never gives in, it persists even on the good days. So for you to get up, for you to make it through another day with all that is going on in that mind of yours- that is courageous. On the days when you’re still tucked in the cocoon, away from others, waiting to bloom- those are the days you’re the most courageous, those are the days that are preparing you to become a butterfly. So push yourself through the metamorphosis towards the day you’re to fly, because that’s what butterflies were meant to do, fly. And you my dear, that’s what you were meant to do, fly.

The sun will rise again.

Love your Internet bestie,

Kass

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

I’ve been avoiding talking about this month because although I used to bring awareness to childhood cancer like it was my second religion, moving and finding my own space in the world has allowed me to distance myself from the advocate side of childhood cancer.
It is not that I do not want to be an advocate for the children fighting this horrific disease, because I am an advocate each and every day. What you have to understand is that sometimes, well actually ALL the time, advocating for the cause that KILLED your brother, is difficult. It hurts. It brings out my post traumatic stress disorder more than any other month.

The honest truth is I don’t want to spend my days focusing on the disease that killed my brother.
But I do want a cure so that no one has to go through what I’ve been through.
It’s a little bit of a give and take situation- I want to give support, but not have it take all my energy as I remember that my brother is dead.

So maybe it’s selfish? But honestly, grief is selfish. I am focusing on MY feelings about losing Cooper, how I view Cooper since he is gone, and what I have lost.

The thing is, childhood cancer still scares me. You would think after losing my brother to the disease I would be able to distance myself. But actually childhood cancer is in the back of my mind constantly. When I am with the babies I watch, the numbers of kids diagnosed each day runs through my head. When I think about my future, having children, the “what if’s” of childhood cancer come creeping up.
And I know your solution as you’re reading this- “Well Kassidy, you can’t live in fear” – You’re right, but you’ve also probably never seen a pediatric unit on Christmas morning, a child get poked with a needle larger than your hand, or watch that same child die.

Grief is hard.


September is hard- because it reminds me of the almost 4 years of absolute HELL that my family and I lived through. The funny thing is I cry more tears wishing he was still in the hospital, rather than crying tears cause he’s dead. My selfish heart wants him here, but my realistic brain knows he would not be the Cooper he was before he was sick.

So, instead of being an advocate for the children currently fighting childhood cancer, the children that are about to receive that diagnosis, or the children who are about to die from childhood cancer.
I wish to be an advocate for all of you who are not going to be affected by childhood cancer, who are not going to hear the words “Your son has Leukemia” or “Your daughter has a Glioblastoma brain tumor.”
I wish to be an advocate for all the people who will not hear those words because I want to remind you of the things that you are privileged to do with your children, siblings, mothers, and fathers each day that we who are grieving the loss of someone we love, cannot do.

You don’t have to say ‘I love you’, but you get too.
You don’t have to give your child a hug, but you get too.
You don’t have to put your phone down to listen to your babies stories, but you get too.
You don’t have to tickle your little one’s back, but you get too.
You don’t have to take them to all the sports and dance classes they want to go too, but you get too.
You don’t have to spend time taking them to the park or on vacation, but you get too.
You don’t have to kiss them goodnight even when they made you crazy that night, but you get too.
You don’t have to feel blessed by your healthy family every day, but you get too.

You see where I am going with this.
Every thing is a choice- you don’t have to do anything in this world, you GET to do every thing in this world.
Including loving your people.

Friends, Love them well because tomorrow is not promised.
As today ends Childhood Cancer Awareness Month- tomorrow marks the 2nd anniversary of the Las Vegas Mass Shooting, where my sister and I ran for our lives.
I cannot imagine what tomorrow would look like if my parents went from losing one child, to three children in the matter of seconds.
I know for a fact my brother spared our lives, I know he was there holding Julia and I as we ran.

Grief is hard.

It comes in many forms, alive or dead.
So today, tomorrow, and always- love your people well because today you GET too.
Tomorrow you might not.