Yesterday my 16-year-old cousin was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
I, like everyone, have lost loved ones in my grandparents' and parents' generations to a variety of causes. It's devastating to lose anyone you love, no matter what their age and the circumstances.
I've lost friends and family in my own generation to illness and accidents. It's scary and tragic when someone close to your own age dies.
But this is the generation below me, the generation that's still made up of kids--kids who should be spending the coming summer hanging out and having fun, not fighting cancer or watching one of their own fight cancer. This is just plain wrong.
Because they help me with my volunteer work for Chemo Angels and because we've recently lost someone to cancer, my kids are more aware of this disease than many. But this is the first time it's so close to home, someone they know well. This is their boisterous cousin who is so full of life and energy that she can hardly contain it, a talented artist who draws pictures for my daughter and hands down clothes to her--someone who was fine when she was my daughter's age and fine when she was my son's age, but is not fine now.
Last night my almost-13-year-old son and I had a late-night talk, and I explained the phrase carpe diem to him. We talked about how important it is to really live your life--to not put off the things you long to do or the things you have to do--because you never know what's around the bend.