Not of exhaustion, but surrender, as though he had given over and relinquished completely that grip upon that blending of pride and hope and vanity and fear, that strength to cling to either defeat or victory, which is the I-Am, and the relinquishment of which is usually death.” - William Faulkner

For you, your life, all of it was a battle.
A battle you fought no matter the carnage. A battle you felt you needed to fight, no matter the victims.
You fought, you were a fighter.
You fought the good, the bad, the every day. You fought what was wrong, what was right, what you thought was right. You fought for rules. You fought for control. You fought for your way.
You pushed.
You pushed away people, love, and normalcy. You also pushed towards a new life, a better one, one you thought would be better.

And so, when you found out, you fought, you pushed, you battled.
You fought us on how hard you were working, working at all.
You fought us on how to be spending your time.
You fought us on how you were not dealing with it, how you were dealing with it, how you dealt with us.

But then there was a moment.
There was one moment in those 13 complicated months of grief and worry that you had one clear moment.
A moment in which you understood and you accepted what was happening.
A moment in which you stopped fighting and you surrendered to the news, you surrendered to what was to come.

And in this one clear and beautiful moment, you surrendered.
Not to the pain, or fear, or chaos.
Not to the exhaustion or devastation.
But to the life you lived, worked for, the one spread in front of you.
And you looked so clear. So calm, so understanding.
You knew it was time.
You said your goodbyes.
You told us what you wanted to say.
It was fleeting, it lasted days, but it was there.

"Anyone who loves someone who’s fought this fight knows it costs all of you." - Lisa Joe Baker

Loving someone through this disease it changes you.
Loving someone through this reality scars you.
It is brutal, this time was brutal.
Add in the complication of us.
Add in the complication of language.
Add in the complication of what was happening.

At first, I watched you surrender without even realizing you were.
Your body was so tired and you wouldn't allow it to be. Your mind was so scared and you were so mad. The fear made you even more complicated.
At times, you were so beautiful, so present, so loving, so honoring of love.
At times, you were so resentful, so terrified, so overwhelmed, so in awe of all you were going to miss.

We were not one of the lucky ones.
We lost you before your next birthday.
We were not able to make your wine that fall.
We did not get to gather for the holidays together.
You didn't make it to be older than your dad when he passed, something you carried in silent fear since the day you lost him.

But somehow, we still got to find love.
I was one of the lucky ones because I felt comfort in my darkest and brightest days.
I was reminded of the love of family, gathered all around me, family.
Family that I fell in the arms of.
Family that picked me up off of floors and grounds.
Family that held me while I slept.
Family that tried to heal me.
Family that taught me how much we show up, even from afar.
Family that reminded me that we are always there for each other.
Family that cried with me.
Family that reminded me that I can laugh again.

So I hold space for grief.
Complicated, fascinating grief.
Grief that comes out in my runs.
Grief that comes out when I write.
Grief that comes out in my dreams.
Grief that comes out in my anger and my resentment and especially in my peace.

I have been thinking of you a lot these days.
Maybe because we are coming up on the anniversary of your death.
Maybe because I am once again going through it.
Maybe because she is crying a lot more right now.
But you are with me.

When you were first diagnosed, my friend forwarded me this poetic quote.
He reminded me of the beauty and fear of death.
He reminded me that love and death are a part of life.
He reminded me that you get this one life, and if you are lucky to get to the end and reflect on all you have lived...and then surrender.

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