My best friend, Grace Bunke, died on March 25, 2018 after a 4 year battle with osteosarcoma. I miss Grace with every breath but I have come to realize that Grace is not gone. The last time I talked to Grace she told me one very important thing. Grace said to me “McClain do not be sad, I will see you again.” It took me a while to realize what Grace meant. I spent months looking for concrete signs from Grace. I would become frustrated at the end of the day when I had not “seen” Grace that day. I came to realize what Grace meant was that she would see me but I would not see her, I would feel her.
I feel Grace swimming behind me every time I dive into the pool. When I race I can feel her pushing me on, telling me to go for the gold. Every time I feel my tattoo I feel her hand in mine, and her not saying a single word about how hard I squeezed. I feel her beside me when I’m making quesadillas as I show her how I can flip it without any cheese spilling out or when I’m baking and catch her sneaking a bite of the cookie dough. Sometimes when I’m eating my midnight snack of lucky charms she is sitting beside me enjoying her third bowl of the evening. I see her bright smile, freckled cheeks, and piercing blue eyes when I look at the water. I hear her sweet giggle when I feel the sun on my face. Every time it rains, I know she is there.
I know she isn’t coming back, but I still hope that she will. Death is like that. It’s all consuming and takes from you what you love most. Just. Like. That. Death gnaws right at your heart where those sweet memories were once housed. Nobody likes to talk about death. Let’s face it, death is scary. It’s final. It’s hard to say what death and grief does to someone. They never tell you that grief can feel so much like fear. They say it gets easier but they don’t know what they are talking about. Grief is never something that you get over. You don’t just wake up one morning and feel fine and ready to move on. Grief is something that walks beside you every single day. I just wish that she was here. I miss her. I miss her presence in my life. I miss my best friend. Plain and simple. You know that saying BFF or ‘Best Friend Forever” well I lost my best friend... forever. Even though I know that Grace is no longer on this earth, I know that Grace will always be here with me.
Why am I participating in Swim Across America again this year? At the age of 17 I lost my 14 year old best friend. No she wasn’t moving schools or to a new state, she was going to heaven. I can no longer hold the hand of my best friend or hear her sweet giggle. I wish I had the chance to give her one last hug, but I cannot, because cancer stole her smile. Children should not have to die like this. Children are the hope for our future and will make big changes in this world, but not if they are dying from cancer. Childhood cancer is killing our future. Please help find a cure for childhood cancer so that nobody has to loose their child, their brother, their sister, or their best friend. Children deserve to live.