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life + work + parenthood + COMMUNITY

  • Writer's pictureJill Devine

Love Like Rachel

Photo from Brandon Janous

Today (March 1st) marks the one-year anniversary of Rachel Janous' passing. I do not personally know Rachel, but I was able to learn about this remarkable woman from her husband, Brandon. He joined me on Episode 64: A Widower's Advice On Living Life To The Fullest.

The conversation with Brandon has left quite the impression on me. In my planner, I have #LoveLikeRachel written where I can see it daily. I have post-it notes placed in different places throughout the house containing #LoveLikeRachel written on them. I'm a constant work in progress, but when I'm feeling down or acting selfish, I try and remind myself of the convo I had with Brandon. Tomorrow isn't promised and I know I'm not alone when I say I need to remember that ... always.

I wanted to do something today to honor Rachel's legacy. While it doesn't feel like enough, I thought sharing some of Brandon's thoughts from a couple of blogs he wrote would be a start. Here are some highlights from Want to Feel Loved? Get Cancer:

We have three kids. They are eight, seven, and five. And we don’t hide Mommy’s cancer from them. We are honest. We are open. We cry together. We laugh together. We enjoy the good days Mommy has and we even embrace the hard days. We don’t really have a choice in the matter. So we just embrace all the days, because in the end, having another day is all we can ask for.
You see, a few years ago, we didn’t live like this. We took days, and weeks, and even years for granted. We lived our lives like we had an unlimited amount of time left. We don’t do that anymore. We don’t take a single moment for granted. We can’t afford to. And if you get nothing out of reading this, get that. Because you can’t afford to, either. You just don’t know what tomorrow holds. So, love your people and love them hard. Don’t wait for a diagnosis or a tragedy or death to do this. Please. Just trust me on this one.
Everyone has their hard. And unfortunately, we live in a society where all too often, we ignore other people’s hards. I’m not saying that’s been the case with us. Trust me, that’s been far from the case. I mean it when I say, “Wanna feel loved? Get cancer.” Because never in our lives have we felt so loved and cared for.
The point is that we just don’t know who we will come across today and what they are going through. We have no idea what their hard is but there is a really good chance it’s there. And we need to be better. I’m not saying we need to be better at recognizing their hards, because more often than not, it won’t be evident.
People are hurting all around us and we just need to be better. We need to be more kind. We need to have more patience. We need to give more grace. We need to love people more.
And finally, when you do know someone is going through a hard, spend less time asking what you can do for them and just do.

Photo from Brandon Janous

Here's more great advice from Brandon from I Wish We All Lived Like We Had Cancer:

A cancer diagnosis doesn’t just attack the patient. It attacks families. Our children. Her parents. My parents. Our siblings, nieces, and nephews. Our aunts and uncles. Our friends, our community, our tribe. We all got diagnosed that day.
You see, I can talk about all the things that cancer took from our “we,” but that’s not what she would have wanted. That’s not how she battled for the past two years. That’s not how she lived and I’m sure not going to let that be how she died. She never took the “woe is me” approach; she never even played the cancer card. I told her we should play the cancer card. I mean, it’s an automatic pass to “get out” of going to things you don’t want to attend. She never let me play the cancer card. Not even once. Some would say that’s a waste of cancer. But that’s just not how she lived.
And oh, did she live. She lived so dang well. Even over the past nine months. Even when the cancer took control of her entire body. Even over the final 39 nights of her life, which we spent together, in a hospital room. Surrounded by our “we.” She lived every single day so well. She found the good in cancer as only she could.
With cancer, the laundry and the household stuff can wait. Because with cancer, you’d much rather spend that extra 30 minutes playing with the kids. And honestly, you realize that the kids don’t care about laundry and, if you didn’t tell them to change clothes, they’d just rock the same ones for days.
With cancer, you just love better. And no one loved better than she did. She loved people, and she loved them so well. She didn’t have an agenda. She wasn’t looking for anything in return. She just loved, because in the end, that’s what love does.
My wife, her name was Rachel. And on March 1, 2020, at 4:34 p.m., she beat cancer. She has no more pain. She has no more tears. There are no more doctors appointments. There are no more surgeries. No more chemo and no more radiation.
I promise you this: I wish cancer on no one. I hate it. I hate it so much. It’s the worst. And I hope you don’t ever have to become a part of this fraternity.
But to be completely honest, in one of those final conversations, Rachel said, “I wish we all lived like we had it,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Because it caused us to love so much better. And to Rachel, to me and to our “we,” there is nothing the world needs more right now than that.

Photo from Brandon Janous

My ask of you today is to pause for a minute and think about Rachel. Then think about her family. Then think about how she wants us all to live.

Photo from Brandon Janous

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