I believe that I was born into one very large family. We eleven siblings share our history, childhood memories and one set of parents. Not one of us was planned. While I believe in every woman’s right to complete control over her reproductive system, I remain eternally grateful for the unique family into which I was born.
I never knew that a woman could die during childbirth until I lost an older sister during the attempted delivery of her third pregnancy. Her death completely devastated our family. Without the other children to soothe their aching hearts, I believe my parents may well have perished from the pain.
I believe we siblings sustained each other when our youngest brother died in a single-car accident; alone, on a proverbial “lost highway.” His blood-alcohol content was double any legal limit. I believe it would have killed my father if Johnny had taken anyone else’s life. But just like the great kid he was growing up, he harmed no one but himself, even in death.
I believe I owe my sister, Gigi, a huge debt of gratitude. Six years ago, after describing an almost routine argument from my verbally abusive marriage, I heard the fear in her voice. Finally, I decided to leave that house. I believe my parents welcomed me back to my childhood home because they love each of their children, planned or unplanned.
I believe my mother feared that I was on a wild rebound when I introduced her to Greg. She dreaded the thought of any further harm in my life. I believe that Greg is the greatest gift that the universe has ever granted me; greater than my family even, if that is possible. And I know that my mother now believes that as well.
Two years ago, breast cancer tested my patience, my faith and my marriage as nothing in my world has ever done. I believe I hate breast cancer and I cannot wait until there is a cure. I believe I will live longer because of the whoop-ass regimen to which I submitted myself while fighting it. I pulled out all the guns. Four surgeries and eight chemotherapy treatments have spared my family a repeat of the sudden losses that we have already suffered. I believe I will get used to the prosthetics, which are more logical to me than reconstructing cancer-harboring breasts.
Finally, I believe that Gigi saved my sanity during my breast cancer battle. She allowed me to rage at the unfairness, for a while. Then she refocused my attention to the tasks only I could accomplish. I believe I will call my sister now. I will tell her that I love her and that I would not be who I am or believe as I do without her in my life.
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