In Prospect Park near where I live here in Brooklyn, there is an amazing tree. In the summer, it looks like any other tree. You could pass it and never give it a second thought. It is in the fall that you see it’s true potential; it glows with orange and yellow. The colors are like a fireball and the sight literally stops people in their tracks. Year after year, this tree fails to disappoint and my husband and I make an annual pilgrimage to bask in it’s beauty.
Last weekend, we had a pretty rough storm here in New York. Rain fell all day long and the wind gusts were strong and relentless. The next day I went for my run in the park. As I turned the corner I took out my phone to take a photo of my favorite tree. But what I saw was not the full glow of neon leaves but rather threadbare branches, patchy and flimsy. The storm had taken the leaves before they were ready to fall. I didn’t take a photograph. I couldn’t.
Immediately, the tree made me think of all the women who have endured the storm of cancer and who, like the tree, have been taken from us before their full bloom and glory have been shared with the world. It reminded me that nothing is certain. Nothing is permanent. That all life is fragile.
Breast cancer awareness month ends in just a few short days. We have been subjected to the usual onslaught of media coverage, walks for the cure, cheerleaders with pink sparkle bows in their hair, products being sold with false promises of major donations, signs making a joke out of our disease and pink t-shirts galore. But that’s not what this month is about. This month is about remembering all of the women who have been taken from us too soon; whose potential will never be fully realized, dreams never completely fulfilled. Just like my beautiful tree.