Photo credit: Jess Washington

By Jess Washington

It’s near the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. October just so happens to be a celebratory month for me and my family. So many birthdays [including mine] and we enjoy the festivities of fall and the holidays to come.

But for my family and I, the last 3 years have been strained. 

In 2017, I lost my beloved aunt to metastatic breast cancer. To say “beloved” is an understatement. She was everything. Elena was the light, the anchor, the matriarch, the one to build you up, the one to reach out and cheer you on, the glue that made the family a FAMILY. And quite frankly, sh*t hasn’t been the same since she joined the ancestors.

They say you must “move on” ….but no one ever tells you how.

For me… I always ask, “what would Elena do?”

When I embrace my loving husband… I think of the love she had for my uncle. She loved him and she always showed it. When I throw parties for my family, I think about the way she often found reasons to corral us all to her house and then made sure we had a good time. When I think of my future, I think about the way she didn’t let anything get in the way of her going back to school and ensuring a better future for her family. When I get dressed, I think about how my aunt set the muthaf*ckin bar high for style! Always crisp and not a hair out of place. Even when she was sick, she wanted to make sure she looked good.

Oh how I wish she could see me now! How I wish I could just talk to her one more time. How I wish this hole in my heart could heal a little faster. Life after losing Elena has forced me to look at this precious thing, we call life differently. I take nothing for granted. If I seem unbothered, it’s because I refuse to waste my energy on negativity and nonsense. Life is LITERALLY too short to focus on foolishness. 

So that’s how I chose to move forward. I honor her memory by living my best life. I’m not the most religious person but I do believe she’s watching over us. So much in my life has changed after her passing. I believe she’s a part of that “goodness”. That is not what she was… it’s what she is… good. And energy that never left… it just transformed. 

I miss Elena in this physical world. I always will. Her birthday would’ve been on the 30th.

Life after losing can hurt for a while…. But there’s still life…. live it!