Today is my sister Mary Claire’s birthday. She would have been 56 years old today.
I wish beyond all things that she was here, so that I could bake her a cake like I did last year and celebrate with her. I would give anything to see her sitting on my couch in the den and holding her newest great niece, Ellen.
But she is not here. Instead I have spent the last five months mourning my little sister and coming to grips with everything that has happened since she told me about the lump near her collarbone.
I miss her every single day. I think about her every single day.
I have second-guessed every single decision we made about her treatment. And come to the conclusion again and again that we did do everything we could.
And I have relived the week and half while we cared for her in hospice over and over.
Ultimately, I have had to make my peace with not only what we did, but with what how it all ended.
This experience has changed me in ways I never expected. I am no stranger to losing those I love to death. I watched my father die in front of me when I was just seven years old. I lost five relatives between the ages of six and fifteen. And because of the experience of watching my father die suddenly of a heart attack, I developed a deep-seated fear of death that has haunted me my entire life. Until now.
Watching Mary Claire fight the inevitable those last weeks changed my perspective forever. She fought so hard for every moment, even though at the end the moments she was fighting for were moments where she was incapable of truly living. When I think back over what happened, the only thing I would change is that I would no longer deny the truth of what was happening to her.
By this, I do not mean that I would not have fought for her as hard as I did over those two years after we got her into M.D. Anderson. I would. Absolutely. But once we had no further options, I wish beyond everything that I had had the courage that my sisters Julia and Jane had to face the truth and the courage they had to tell Mary Claire the truth about what was going to happen. And if I am ever in Mary Claire’s situation, I hope that I have Julia and Jane there to tell me the truth. I promise I will believe you two.
I love you forever Mary Claire.
And I love you forever Julia and Jane.