12 Years Later, The Pain Is Still Fresh

We lost our daughter to cancer 12 years ago today, and it still really hurts

Photo by Rinck Content Studio on Unsplash

Twelve years ago today, our eldest daughter died of cancer. It was the most horrific moment of my life.

I knew that, one day, I was going to bury her. She had a genetic condition to which most of those afflicted ultimately succumb. Yet, despite playing the movie of her death in my mind a million times, the day I finally faced it was the absolute worst day through which I have ever lived.

Twelve years later, the pain is still fresh. The grief is still suffocating. The deep-seated ache in my heart has never resolved.

As time goes by, I start to forget the circumstances surrounding her death. With my career and family obligations, I naturally am not constantly focused on those last terrible 12 hours of her life. Forgetting is actually part of the human condition, otherwise most people could not move on from a terrible tragedy.

But that forgetting — as merciful as it may be — is painful. This was my very first child. From the moment I laid eyes on her, I fell deeply in love. I never knew I could love someone like that until God gave her to us.

And the love she gave my wife and me in return was nothing short of Divine. It was unconditional, and no matter what, she would shower us with her love and smile that would melt your heart and warm your soul. I miss her so terribly.

And so — feeling so much pain from my forgetting — I sometimes go back in my memory to those last hours of her life. It is still fresh in my mind, and I remember every last detail. But when I do that, it is completely unbearable. And then, facing the horror of her loss all over again, I want to forget.

I am stuck in this vicious cycle now, and there is no way out of it.

Since her death, we have been blessed with so many gifts and so much good. The Lord has showered us with so much comfort and consolation, and for this I am forever grateful. We started a foundation in her name, seeking to “Paint the World Pink” in her honor. Pink was her favorite color, and so today, I wear pink to honor her memory and how much she meant to us.

Moreover, as an ICU doctor, I always share the story of my daughter’s death with my patients’ family members. It is a way for me to let them know that I truly do know how they feel, and it has helped them deal with the loss of their family to critical illness. It is one of the ways the Lord has brought something good out of something so truly terrible.

All of that said, the pain of her loss is still with me. It will always be with me. Like I said before, I hate that I forget, but I can’t bear to remember. All I am trying to do now is to live a life of righteousness so that, one day, I can be reunited with her again. And when that day finally comes, it will be the best day of my entire existence.

NY Times featured Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist | Physician Leader | Author and Blogger | His latest book is “Code Blue,” a medical thriller.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store