Eighteen months. That is how long its been since I last told Andrew I loved him and held him as his battle with lung cancer came to an end, feeling his last breath escape his failed lungs.
In the 565 days since my husband passed, I think about how Andrew struggled to breathe. Also in the days since he has passed, as with the rest of the world, I continue to live through a global pandemic, watching people around me struggle to breath as covid-19 has ripped through our communities, and can't help but see the similarities between lung cancer and Covid. Something that we take for granted, and something we don't think about normally is under attack:ones ability to breathe.
That is why I continue to support the American Lung Association and its vision for a world free of lung disease, whether it be lung cancer, covid-19, asthma, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, or any other lung disease. While I can't go back in time and change the outcome for Andrew, I do have the ability to keep pushing for those still here, fighting alongside the ALA to find a cure for any of these lung diseases in order to help others. That is what Andrew would have wanted. Throughout his sickness, we met many people fighting their own battles and Andrew's heart broke for every person he met. He would lend them his strength, share in a laugh and brighten their days to help them keep pushing forward, even when he was himself tired and worn out. That is why I keep pushing. I keep pushing to make Andrew proud and to show him that I have not given up. I keep pushing to help find the cure so no one else has to face the struggles Andrew faced. And I keep pushing so no other wife has to kiss her husband and best friend goodbye at the age of 36, so no other mother has to outlive their child, and so no one else's family and friends have to live with a hole in their hearts that can never be filled.
This will be my fourth year participating in the LUNG FORCE walk, and my first year on the walk committee, working to raise funds to help find a cure for those diagnosed with lung cancer, covid-19, and any of the other lung diseases faced by so many people. I walk in memory of Andrew, my best friend and soulmate, whom I will miss every day of my life until we meet again. I walk for my two grandmothers, Cecelia and Margaret, who were also taken too soon due to lung cancer. I walk for my uncle Gene who lost his battle with pulmonary fibrosis in March of this year. I walk for my uncle Jerry who has spent the past five and a half months in the hospital battling covid-19 but continues defying all odds and won't give up. I walk for my mother and brother who both suffer from asthma. And I walk so that one day we may all be so lucky as to take breathing for granted again.