June 11 is indelibly marked in my mind for it serves as the anniversary of our firstborn daughter, KaShanta's transition from earth into the presence of the Lord. Somehow the word, transition speaks to me a softer tone than just to say she died. Death sounds so final, but it isn't. I know, the end result is the same because, at any rate, one stops breathing. All the energy escapes from the body. The body returns for a time to the dust and the spirit man ascends upwards or not. The good news is we have a great hope outlined in I Thessalonians 4:16-17, which reminds us that those whose bodies are asleep in Jesus will be caught up with those who are alive on earth to be with the Lord always. That is most comforting.
Although there have been many tearful days that lead up to this one, I've determined to celebrate her life. I allow myself time to grieve and cry whenever I feel like doing so. I refuse to wallow in a state of depression.
Grief affects everyone differently and I am no stranger to it. I lost my father, my best friend on March 16, 2009, and six weeks later, I lost my maternal grandmother in May - another best friend. Years ago, I lost my paternal grandmother, grandfather, maternal grandfather, several aunts, and cousins. However, losing my daughter, a best friend, took on a whole new life of grief. When a parent dies, we call the survivors orphans, motherless, or fatherless. When a spouse dies, we call the survivor a widow or widower depending on the gender. But when your child is no longer alive on earth, what are the survivors called? Nothing! There are no words - at least that I know of. However, there are several adjectives that come to mind: breathless, speechless, and numb - just to name a few.
We celebrate her today instead of mourning because her morning is finally here. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalm 30:5b Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. She is pain-free - no more suffering. Everyone has midnight hour seasons in their lives and yearn for the warmth of the morning light. We all believed along with Shan (short name) that God would heal her and he did but not in the way that we anticipated. In January 2015, she told me that she was not willing to stay on earth in this condition. The conversation referenced her father, who has suffered the pains of kidney failure since November 1992. Although he is a walking miracle, he has dealt with major medical problems 24/7/365 since his diagnosis in 1992.
ALL CANCERS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
KaShanta suffered so much that it inspired her to start an organization that would help women with HER2 Triple Negative breast cancer, the guilty culprit that ravished her beautiful body in so many ways. We had never heard of this crippling disease. Shan did not want her family, or anyone to suffer the things that she endured. The determination of a tax-exempt, 501(c)3 was not for her to witness but it happened as she dreamed it would. Even though I was the co-founder, I did not want the reigns. She was a natural for the mission - spontaneous and extremely knowledgeable. However, to honor her vision and legacy I have assumed the position of president. My daughter, Kamilia and I knew that we must pursue the assignment in commemoration of her efforts.
AFRICAN-AMERICAN FEMALES - LEADING FACE OF HER2 TRIPLE NEGATIVE
You can help us spread the word about HER2 Triple Negative breast cancer. It is rare, super aggressive and tends to victimize African-American women from the ages of 40-50 years young. It is difficult to treat with orthodox medicines and tends to claim its victims rapidly. Shan was diagnosed in 2012,after being misdiagnosed several times prior, at the age of 34, and she passed in 2015. We knew that something was amiss, but she was continuously given a clean bill of health. Looking at her in the beginning stages, you would never guess the war that was raging inside her body. Prior to the detection of HER2, she practiced a healthy lifestyle and did not fit the statistics. KaShanta was not overweight, ate healthy, exercised, expanded her knowledge on a continuous basis and strengthened her spirit by meditating in the Bible. Orthodox treatments, including a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation were unable to save her. In fact, they worsened her conditioned due to some mistakes on the part of one surgeon and other doctors - at different times.
Nevertheless, we celebrate her 38 years on planet earth and all that she accomplished in such a short time. At her memorial service, her oldest daughter, Ashlynn, age 15, wrote a poem as a tribute to her mother. The most notable statement I heard her say was, "The brightest stars burn out first. My mother was a bright star". Indeed, she was, Ashlynn. Indeed, she was!
KaShanta Monique Clark Sims, we will always cherish your memory on earth. We will always honor your service as a soldier in the United States Army. We will always celebrate the pain-free life you are now able to embrace. We vow, by the grace of God, to continue the mission that you gave birth to. We will always remember what you told us not to forget.