My sister-in-law’s 52nd birthday is today, but she’s not here to celebrate. At age 50, she passed away from ALS, a cruel disease.
She loved NASCAR and Bon Jovi. She was a major 49’ers fan and I so wish she’d seen this last season. Her home was decorated with crosses and pictures of her daughter, the love of her life.
She and my husband look so much alike. She was two years older. When he started high school and some upper classmen were giving him a hard time, she pushed one of them up against the locker and told them, “This is my little brother. Hands off.” Everyone was a little scared of her because she was a force to be reckoned with.
A few years ago, she was diagnosed with both breast cancer and ALS. My father-in-law suffered through ALS ten years ago. She was so strong through surgery, chemo, and radiation as she dealt with loss of balance. She’d been in a nursing course and insisted on finishing, even taking her boards. The day of the testing, she fell in the bathroom, opening a bloody wound on her head. Her friend took her to the ER, and my sister-in-law explained to the nursing staff that she needed to get treated and get out of there for boards. They rushed her through and she made it in time, finishing before her friend – and she passed!
Because ALS is rarely familial, she and my husband took part in a research project. We visited her as often as we could, and she smiled all the way. She was able to go to a couple San Francisco home games, saw Pitbull in Las Vegas, and went to a filming of one of her favorite TV shows.
My husband had planned to never get a tattoo, but his sister had several. The picture above is his tribute to her.
In the end, it ended, as it will for all of us. I just hope I can do it as gracefully as she did. Happy birthday, Sis.