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Amanda Magee Headshot

Even Still

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Amanda Magee
Amanda Magee

I used to believe that there was a formula --

...step on a crack, break your mother's back

I thought that if even against my better judgement or despite my best efforts, if I indeed stepped on a crack, that I could avoid the next seven cracks and take it back.

Take it back. Take back Dawn dying, take back Ransom dying, take back Susan getting sick again, take back her dying.

The thing is, there is no forumla. Ang, the toughest person I ever met, got sick. Dawn, the sweetest woman I ever knew, didn't get a do-over. I want to buck and rail and rant 'til spittle flies from my mouth and my face is as red as the smarting hurt upon my heart. I want to bandy the #f*ckcancer hashtag about and have it make a difference. I want to think about the law of equals and know that someone who deserves it more will be the one.

That wish haunts me, because there is always someone loving someone, always someone gazing up at ballons with the whole of their being and watching dreams and futures float away against their control. This year has brought the revelations that it doesn't matter how hard you work, how fearlessly you love, or even how honestly you live -- cancer, misfortune and their cousins are indiscriminate.

This would break me if I didn't know how enduring the glow of Ransom's face was, or how profoundly Dawn's pure spirit touched the people she graced with her wisdom, her smile and her relentless support and positivity. I am deeply impacted by how short both their lives were cut, and I say this next part with trepidation -- I am not Ransom's mother and Dawn is not my mom. I never lived with or for either, but make no mistake, I did love them both. They are gone and there will be no more comments from Dawn, no more pictures of Ransom, but as sure as they were in my life a week and a half and ago, they are still here.

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They are here with all of us. Cancer took them, but in completing their battles with cancer, they stopped suffering. Our vigils ended and our lives changed, but because of each of them, we will move through our days differently. We will check our skin, we will live boldly. We will remember having them and losing them, and we will continue remembering them.

I want to be so angry, and to a certain degree I am. But, as I understand how loss is not something that we can control, I am grateful. I am grateful for the years of Dawn talking to me. Sometimes she agreed with me, sometimes I made her scratch her head (sometimes I made her crazy with how I made her cry, but I think deep down she liked it), and other times, she said that she saw it a different way. Each time, I was grateful that she had taken the time. That was so much of it, she took the time. Cancer can't take that away.

Cancer can't erase Ransom's smile and it can't ever hope to diminish the impact Dawn had in so many lives.

I will mourn, we all will, and the pound sign within the many cancer hashtags will have a new push. It is the force of wanting to remember Ransom and Dawn and Susan and so many others. We hear you knocking cancer, and we are going to be knocking back.

We'll fight.
We'll check our skin.
We'll watch the signals.

We will find a way to beat you and along the way we will cherish all the lives.

To quote Dawn:

I've begun dancing and singing loudly with the boys... heck, without the boys!
Yesterday, Matt was talking about playing flag football in the spring and was assuming I wouldn't play... I pretty much shocked him by saying that I would totally play flag football. It was a total 'your mom rocks, you'd better watch out' moment.