Memories – we hold a special place in our hearts to store them, whether they are life-changing or tragic events. I knew I needed to document our journey with cancer because the end was unknown: I wanted to be able to look back and have memories of my brother if he lost his battle with cancer.
Although I didn’t want to remember him this way, it was a part of his life story.
This picture of Alex is one of my favorites. It’s a heavy image to take in, but some days it puts life into perspective.
On this particular day, I was having a rough day; one of those days when it seemed like everything I did was not going my way. I was having a hard time balancing my work life, social life and the roller coaster of events happening with Alex’s health. I came to a point when I was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.
It was my turn to spend the night with Alex at the hospital, which meant little to no sleep. The nights were the worst for him: He had graft-versus-host disease, the IV pumps alarm would go off multiple times, nurses in and out, Alex needed assistance getting in and out of bed to use the bathroom, and we would most likely change the bed sheets countless times in between.
As I walked into his room, I found him sleeping peacefully. The room was humming with the IVs, and there was his beautiful bald head peeking out of the blankets.
I instantly felt guilt well up in my chest. I thought to myself, Who am I to ever complain about having a bad day? This is a bad day, it has been a bad day for almost a year for him.
His teenage life was put on hold to beat cancer. He had missed all the milestones of his teenage life. He sacrificed everything he was used to, all to survive.
But, in this picture, this was a good day for him. He was peaceful, he was comfortable and lastly, he was content. These are the moments when life comes full circle for me.
The little things in my life don’t matter, he does. He deserves all my attention and all my worries. He is the reason I have the honor of being a sister.
Written by Kirsten Mowrey
Kirsten Mowrey is the middle child of her family, 28 years old, and a dental hygienist, yoga lover and a foodie for the latest restaurants in the Twin Cities in Minnesota.