Monday, September 19, 2011

Losing a Loved One: My beautiful cousin-in-law Gianna

In my world of blogging, there isn't usually much holding back when I sit down to type up a post. I don't do much editing, I sit back and let the words flow and then I hit "publish" before I have much time to think about it. Writing is an outlet for me, it is a form of expression and in many ways it is my therapy so I made a promise to myself to write, and write, and write and be honest because nothing we feel is "right or wrong" it just is. Right now though, as I sit here and put my fingers to the keyboard, I am at a loss and don't know how to go about this entry at all.

This weekend was a very difficult one for my family... we lost someone who we all loved so dearly and right now, it just seems like there is no shaking the sadness, the emptiness of life without her.

My cousin Raymond and I grew up really close. Our moms are sisters and we spent lots of time together as kids. We went to a lot of the same schools and played together, did our homework together, we grew up together. Ray and his siblings Amanda and Anthony were always more than just cousins to me. They were like my brothers and sister. I spent summers over at their house and my aunt was like a second mom to me. I am just one year older than Ray and we have so many good memories of our upbringing.

In 2008 I got married and less than 3 months after my wedding, my cousin Ray got married too! He married a beautiful young woman named Gianna and though I could not make the trip to San Diego for their wedding, I was so happy that he found his soul mate and made this step in his life. Gianna and I would talk over Facebook and I got to keep up with them in their photos and updates. When I heard that Ray and Gianna were coming to NYC for a visit, I was thrilled!

We had Ray and Gianna stay over at our place and we had such a great time visiting with them. I felt an instant bond with Gianna because that's just the way she was -- her heart was so full of love for others. We laughed together and talked about God and faith because that was such a huge part of Gianna's life. She loved being a Christian and her faith shined every second I got to spend getting to know her. I noticed a change in my cousin for the better and I felt grateful ... grateful that he had found this woman and that she had been such a positive influence in his life. He was happy and I was so happy for him. Here we were -- Newly married, twenty-something couples hanging out talking about our plans for the future, our hopes and our dreams.

In the summer of 2010 I found out I was pregnant and I remember sharing the good news with my cousin. I jokingly said "Get started on that baby making so that my little one can have a cousin to play with" and he surprised me when he said "actually, we plan to start working on that soon." I was thrilled! We talked about making a trip to San Diego and getting together more often... things didn't go as we planned.

By the summer of 2011 I had given birth to my baby and Gianna was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. When I heard the news, I remember saying "oh she is gonna beat this". My cousin didn't seem worried, he was hopeful and so was I. She was only 22 years old, she was beautiful and full of life... she was going to beat this cancer and have that baby and we would all spend years making memories as a family.

The prognosis did not offer much hope and when I did a google search on "renal medullary carcinoma" I was horrified. Gianna's cancer was already at stage 4 when she was diagnosed and it would take a miracle for her to be healed. We prayed, and prayed faithfully for that miracle and she fought for her life... this weekend the battle ended. Gianna passed away leaving my cousin heart broken. I cannot explain with words the grief that I feel, the pain, the loss and most of all the helplessness. My cousin lost his young wife of just under 3 years and I wish I could do something to ease his pain. I remember walking him to the bus stop for school in the morning when we were kids and I wish we could just go back to that. I wish life wasn't so hard and I wish this wasn't so unfair.

I know that God had a plan for Gianna... I know that she is no longer in pain... and I know that God will give Ray the strength he needs to move forward. It will be a long road ahead.

Every single moment we have is a gift and we are so blessed. I wake up 5 times a night for my teething infant and i am tired and sleep deprived and I am so blessed. I pick up after a messy husband and we get on each other's nerves but we are so blessed. I don't know why Gianna's life was so short and I don't know why my cousin Raymond has to go through this but I know that life is such a gift.

I just wanna end this by asking for your help. #1) please keep Ray in your prayers and the whole family as we come to terms with this loss and #2) most young people don't think about life insurance.. Gianna was only 23 when she passed and now the family is overwhelmed with the expenses. Raymond shouldn't have to worry about money at a time like this so if you are able to provide any help, donations are being accepted here --

"Life isn't measured in the breaths you take, but in the moments that take your breath away." -- Rest in peace beautiful Gianna Castro. We Love you.

Getting "New York Pizza" Ray and Gi's visit w/ the fam

California girl Enjoying the Snow

Raymond and Gianna at the Grand Canyon

1 comment:

  1. Gianna was one of my best friends for almost 10 years and even though it's been a little over a year and a half I still miss her. I don't know why I stumbled upon this but I thank you for posting it. I don't want her to ever be forgotten. God Bless.