My sister died two months ago. Forty-five years old, she was blindsided by a Stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis in November 2006. She did fairly well on the chemo for almost a year, but it was just too aggressive to beat.
She left behind a husband of almost 20 years, and two boys, teenagers. She was a skilled neonatal intensive care nurse, and completed the coursework for her Bachelor's of Science in Nursing while she was undergoing treatment.
She had a bawdy sense of humor, and defended the people she loved fiercely. Her older son, my nephew Patrick was born with Hirschbrung's Disease, and was in and out of the hospital for much of his first two years of life. He had all of his large intestine and some of his small intestine removed - it was a huge strain on the family, but Pat's OK, although side effects from his time in the hospital left him deaf (he's got a cochlear implant, so he's been able to hear since he was about five).
She loved the beach. Loved the feel of the sun and wind and water. She and her husband would have likely retired on a coast somewhere. Even when we were kids, she'd be out in the back yard slathered in tanning oil, and I'd do 5 minutes where all I could think was "my god, it's so hot out here" and hightail it in the house for some kool-aid.
I felt her absence a lot yesterday. Every day since she died, I wake up and check my cell phone, as I did when she was sick, to see if she's called. If she needs me. And when I have a spare few minutes waiting for a train, or hanging out at the dog park, I think to call her. There is simply a hole there that exists because she's gone. She was such a good friend. She was instrumental in helping me through my divorce, and had wisdom beyond her years that came from being a good listener.
I'm trying to remember my network of people during this weird time. CB is one of the greatest empathetic listeners on the planet, and I plan to make use of his patient ear. Friends have been really helpful too, and it's my responsibility to contact them if I need them, as I hope they would do if they needed someone to talk to.
The picture is of Kris from summer of 2006. The summer I flew to OH and we drove to SC to meet up at my brother's house. She was feeling a little tired at the time, but thought it was her hectic schedule. Little did she know she probably had had cancer growing in her for several years. GET YOUR EXAMS, PEOPLE. Anyway, I love this picture because my niece is gnawing on Kris's arm and Kris is showing her professional baby holding technique. She looks strong, confident and happy and that's how I want to remember her. She'd kick my ass if I did anything else.