"It will get easier”.
It didn’t matter if it came from a familiar face at the funeral home, a stranger in the supermarket, or the refs at my own basketball game, I’d never believe it no matter how many times I heard it. At only 13, with a life full of birthdays, holidays, and milestones ahead of me, it seemed like nothing would ever be "easy" for our family again. Our happiest moments were largely hindered by the fact that a main character was missing--and would be forever--but it was the day-to-day, mundane parts of life that weighed heaviest on my heart.
It was the math homework I just couldn’t figure out, that I knew the accountant in him would be thrilled to help with. It was the new friends coming into my life, that I knew he would love to embarrass me in front of with his own personal rendition of “Get Low” after a few beers. It was everything good, bad, or ugly that I would give anything to hear him laugh at, share his opinion on, or share in the joy with.
The dictionary defines "easy" as “achieved without great effort, presenting few difficulties” so with that definition in mind, no, the past 9 and a half years of our lives haven't been easy by any means. However, somewhere along the way one thing did get "easier" and that's been finding and keeping him with us in whatever we do.
As time went on, I watched my mom fall in love with someone who has as much love for her as he did my dad. I watched my brother excel in college, land a dream job, and start a new chapter of his life. I myself left behind the place and people I love in hopes to see every inch of the world my father never got the chance to.
But we didn't get here on our own.
It would be impossible to properly express all that the Big Orange Foundation has done for my family. Aside from the constant love and support through our highest highs and our lowest lows, this organization has made one of the worst tragedies a family can face in life that much "easier" by giving us a way to keep his memory alive. Because of Big Orange and the money we've raised for melanoma research, I can sleep soundly at night-- whether that be right here in Parkville or in the Sahara Desert-- knowing some little girl is getting sung to sleep by her dad who just finished his immunotherapy treatment. Because of Big Orange, we can look up to a bright orange sky and smile because, with a guardian angel like my dad looking out for us along with the angels in orange that walk with us every day, we are doing our part to change melanoma's place in this world, eventually making it nonexistent.