I couldn’t breathe. As I lay my head down on the pillow, I couldn’t breathe. The heaviness in my heart was suffocating. I felt immobilized, numb with pain, not knowing how to feel any other way. Not knowing if I ever would, or even if I wanted to. I’ve never felt such loss and utter devastation.
My mind couldn’t grasp the reality that I would never see my daughter again. I would never hear her laughter, never see her silly smirk, never feel her bear hugs. Not ever again. She was just….gone. It felt as if I was dying. I wanted to die. Tears slipped down my face onto the pillow. I have no idea if anyone in the house could hear my sobs that first night. All I knew was that my heart was shattered into a million tiny pieces and I couldn’t breathe.
As I write tonight, I try to find the words to fully describe the physical pain pulsing through my body. The gaping void that wanted to swallow me when Jillian drew her last breath. I don’t believe I’ll ever have the words for that.
It has been seven years since Jillian left us, stolen by melanoma. I don’t talk about the pain as much anymore, but it is always with me. The hard lump in my throat is never far away, nor are the tears behind my smile. I can breathe now, but each breath comes with a catch. A hitch. With a little bit of Jillian.
May is Melanoma awareness month. This is the time when my melanoma friends try especially hard to share their stories. They do it in the hopes they can educate just one person about melanoma and to save a life. They do it to protect you against the fear that melanoma brings with it. Because that fear is a constant once you’ve been diagnosed. They do it to try and make some sense of this horrific disease when there is none. None of my melanoma warriors want you to experience what they’ve endured. What ever the reason, we continue to spread awareness in what ever way we can.
The latest billboard is going up May 4 through the end of the month in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the below locations:
*US-131 .2 miles North of 44th St. West side, facing south.
*M-6 1.2 miles west of Broadmoor Ave. South side, facing east.
Each person on this billboard has a story to tell. Some are battling melanoma today and some are no longer with us. They all have loved ones that are affected by this disease. You can read their stories on the Testimony section of the website. If you would like me to add your story, I would be honored to do so. Just fill out your information on the contact section of the site, I’ll add it.
Please. Please, stay out of tanning beds and protect yourself from the sun. It is not worth the risk you are taking with your life. Your decision to tan effects everyone you love. Like me. Because of that choice, your last breath will be branded in your loved one’s minds forever.