Friday, January 18, 2013

Lessons from Laurie

I didn't know Sharon very well, but I came to know my sister a whole lot better through Sharon's death six years ago today.

For sixteen months, my sister Laurie was Sharon's caregiver as together they traversed the journey of cancer patient and, finally, Hospice client.  I'm sure I won't can't get all the details correct, but they both taught me - about death, and about caring for the dying.

Laurie is a crier, just like me, which is one of our common bonds.  But she was a rock when it mattered, and it mattered a whole lot during those sixteen emotional months.

To say it was a difficult time doesn't paint the picture.  Laurie became a medical expert and a patient advocate for Sharon.  Laurie learned blood counts, oncology options, CT scan results and consulted on all of it.  There were a whole lot of sacrifices, compromises, inconveniences, and late nights online remotely so the wheels didn't come off her work commitments.  She did all of that (and I know I don't know the half of it) and she would've done it another sixteen months, or years.

What I saw in those difficult days was a woman who was so committed to the integrity of another human being that you couldn't help but sit up straighter, to try harder, to be better.

At Sharon's funeral service, Laurie delivered the eulogy.  I was nervous for her.  She's a crier - how is she going to do this?  I saw my sister's strength like never before.  She gave a final gift to Sharon, and to all of us who were listening.  Her eulogy was a toast to her best friend, her sister-by-heart, and she was amazingly strong.  Her composure, her resolve, her grace - these things were modeled for me by Laurie that day.

What I've seen since Sharon's death is a loved one so full of grief that in the early difficult days her words slurred, her hand seemed unsteady, her eyes were so sad.  What I've seen in the last few years is a woman who fully understands the gift she was given and treasures it and can talk about...and, having witnessed death so intimately, really values all that comes with purposeful living.

Thank you, big sister, for the life lessons.  I hope I get a ride in your new Mustang soon.


  1. Thank you Jen for your kind words and thank you for being a very good support person during my journey.

  2. Very thoughtful post. A courageous person caring for her friend during the most difficult of times.