Grateful for My Sister, Linda: 1949-2015

I’ve been away from this blog space far too long because I’ve been distracted.

Any focus I’ve managed to maintain for most of 2015 has been on my sister Linda’s drastically deteriorating health.

Last February, in Florida where we were spending the winter by the Atlantic Ocean,  I wrote a blog post, “Ruffles on the Horizon” to describe Linda’s respiratory infection, complicating her Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) which had already compromised her breathing somewhat.

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How naively hopeful we were back then.

Over the next ten months, those ruffles on the horizon turned into a tsunami of antibiotics, hospitalizations, steroids, breathing treatments, doctors’ appointments, trips to CVS for medications, and eventually sharing our apartment with “the beast”—the oxygen machine to which she was tethered around the clock. We lurched from one PET scan to the next, looking for clarity about a course of treatment.

We were to learn that clarity is elusive with a complicated medical condition.

We lived in medical limbo by binge watching Breaking Bad and House of Cards, all the British mysteries on PBS, working jigsaw puzzles, reading, or soaking up Vitamin D by the pool with friends.

And with occasional black humor…when a small tumor on her left lung was diagnosed, she turned to me and said, “better call Saul.” (the shyster ‘fixer’ in Breaking Bad).

Fast forward to a September 23rd journal entry:

 Any air that Linda breathes is provided through round-the-clock oxygen + extra breathing treatments with a nebulizer + using a BPAP mask at night + IV antibiotics to treat a relentless infection + super-duper steroids to reduce the inflammation in her airways.

 It was heartbreaking to see this beautiful woman fade to 85 pounds by the day she died–October 8th–like a sparkly helium balloon that has deflated.

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The poet Mary Oliver writes “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What Linda did with her one ‘wild and precious life’ was to nurture countless loyal friendships, teach and counsel hundreds of children in the St Louis area, joyfully raise her daughter and two stepsons, and dote on her grandchildren.

Her friend Penny described ‘a beautiful thing about Linda…she had so many diverse sets of friends and each person felt that she was their very best friend.’ (surely I, her only sister, was her VERY best friend!)

Linda’s life was celebrated in St Louis on October 24th by her family and well over one hundred of her best friends.

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The Buddha says, “The whole of the holy life is good friends.” If he is to be believed, Linda led a rich, holy life.

I am so grateful to have been a part of it.

Linda with granddaughter Avery

Linda with granddaughter Avery

 

 

 

 

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