I’ve Been Thinking of a Way

by Nichole Fenwick


I’ve been thinking of a way to say the things that get misunderstood. The things that go undetected. The unspoken sorrows that, yes, are a few years old, but burn so deep, they entrap me in this cyclical sadness. This sadness that surfaces year after year around the time it originally occurred.

For me, its the beginning of each year; the months between January and May. There’s a lot of sorrow in these months. And although it’s in the past, the sadness still seeps into my day to day activities and waking life.

As the months and the years pass by, my brain and heart remember each of these moments. And they still stop me in my tracks. They still place me in this autopilot-like state; the only state that seems to enable me to make it through the beginning of every year.

I still see my cousin, Cassy, tracing her fingers across the walls to keep her balance as she bravely faced each of her intense treatments for stage 5 breast cancer.


Cassy Zwingelberg Scribner, my cousin, a few months before she was diagnosed with stage five breast cancer. She was just 33 when she passed in 2013.

I still see my mom’s bags packed by the door, having no idea she was about to go away for a while; into treatment for the eating disorder and alcoholism that had consumed her life for so long.


My mom entered treatment for alcoholism and an eating disorder in March of 2018. This March 22 we will celebrate 2 years of sobriety and health. She is proof that recovery does work if you’re willing to do the work and more importantly, to surrender everything.

I still see my little sister, seventeen years old, and accepting that tomorrow she would start five months of chemotherapy.


My “Seastar” Emma, cancer survivor and best friend. Her debut single, Breathe, was written during her battle and recorded at Paramount Recording Studios in LA this past April. Proof that from our hardest battles rise our greatest triumphs.

I still see Cassy’s frail body, lying in the bed, teetering between life and death, squeezing my hand, as I said: “I love you.” As we said good-bye.

Yes, these moments have passed.

It’s been seven years since Cassy’s death, and I miss her every day like it was the first.

It’s been two years since my mom went into treatment, emerging healthy and whole. And more importantly, determined.

It’s been almost four years since my sister underwent treatment for stage 5 cancer, surviving and thriving. She’s still the bravest soul I know.

And while I celebrate these victories, the sadness still comes. But maybe that’s because love is at the heart of it. These people that I love so much. Whose lives are so entwined with mine that I feel their pain, and their joy, and their absence. And I always will.