Tribute to Sarah by Jen Kaufman
My cousin Sarah died on the first day of 2014. She fought breast cancer with Li Fraumeni Syndrome genes and lost. I want to share my thoughts to help others heal. That is what she would have wanted. She just got me slippers for Christmas and a beautiful owl mug. She called me her sister because we have shared everything. When I was a freshman in high school she was a senior, which made my life way easier and more fun. I was called 'little Ruiz', which to me was the highest compliment in the land. She was beautiful. Not just pretty, but the kind of beautiful that turned heads. Not that I was cool enough to hang out with her then. I can hear her opinion on anything and know what she would tell me to do. She was only 34. I loved her, everyone loved her. That part doesn’t die. It needs to heal though. You see not everyone has the ability to be opinionated and graceful. She was a teacher, but her favorite job was Auntie. She was surrounded by loved ones at home when she passed in Marblehead, MA.
You would think that after a girl loses her mom there is no greater pain. Now I am not sure. Our personalities tamed as we watched our parents die and felt the loss of souls that weren’t close enough. Losing a person is totally different each time for each person. That is also the beauty of life. See sometimes too when you lose a family member you can’t even look in the mirror without crying. I don’t want to look at Sister Rachael for fear of loud sobs involuntarily leaving my body. Hugs are precious. Sometimes we have to let go of the things that won’t ever happen. I used the waterfall eyes facebook icon to explain myself for days. I started referring to myself as waterfall eyes. I can’t be afraid to cry at the grocery store. The fact that Sarah and I could still have a conversation with only our eyes is not something I can cry over. There was this one day & she called it the perfect day. It was that day that I realized she might die and that she wasn’t afraid. We had a lot of deep conversations about how to save the world as we walked the dogs or swam in the ocean. Right now, I don’t know what day it is. When some stranger asks me how I am doing, I want to start shaking them, you know your sister could just die? I must just accept that I am sad.
After a couple of beers I referred to the loss of her like Jesus being sacrificed. Sometimes we have to lose something precious so that many can start to recognize true beauty. Making people survive her loss when she did so much with just her smile. “No one is like you Jenny” she would say. Her love was selfless and she always wanted what was best for me. It took me until she was half alive to realize how much she hated me seeing her in pain. For more than a year now, I texted her every day. A good morning or a smiley face, pictures of beautiful things to take away some of the pain I knew she was feeling. We had a lot of quality time together, but I want to scream that it wasn’t enough. She was taken too soon. But there she is again in my head telling me to take out the Precious Moments Bible she bought me. She starred and circled some of the important parts for me in green pen. There aren’t any words that will make me feel better. Then I think that is too negative, that there must be words. Are there words to test? I can’t get mad that no one understands. I don’t want anyone to understand! How could I ask anyone to handle this?
Be thankful for your genes and your jeans. Accept Li Fraumeni Syndrome as a part of the family. It is a mutation not a curse. I am thankful for the LFS community I am virtually connected to and she was proud of me for attending the last LFS conference solo. If it wasn’t for another Jennifer I wouldn’t be writing anything. Sometimes you need the people that know what is like to tell you what to do as you grieve. Just like I needed to borrow my best friends black clothing, I need to borrow strength from the battle that was lost.
She would get a tickle out of her family getting to meet all her friends too. She will forever be trying to explain to me the rest of the family from up above. Her friends raised 18 thousand dollars in a day to cover her funeral costs. My brother, cousins and uncles will dig her grave although the ground is frozen. How is that for the impossible? See memories have to be remembered for us to grow. Like even the not good ones, the first diagnosis of breast cancer, or our candid conversations where we agreed that making it to 40 would be great. Sarah loved my ability to say it like it is, and we laughed over the silliest things. To all her kind words and magnificent beauty I write this.. ..She will be forever an angel and never again in pain.