I’m writing this blog for me. I need to get this out. And maybe, I’ll be able to totally move forward without one foot stuck in the past. I will go back to writing the ridiculous content I normally write.
A year ago in August, we lost the backbone of our family. Michelle was more than just my sister-in-law. She was my best friend and the kindest person I had ever had the pleasure of knowing. She married my brother when I was only seven years old so I don’t even remember my life without her in it. Like most family members, I didn’t appreciate her enough.
She would always offer advice and was quick to thump the hellfire out of any of our kids if they misbehaved. We always joked (but really meant it) that she was our mother’s favorite child.
She was brilliant, led a charmed life and was everything we all wanted to be. But you couldn’t fault her for that because she made better decisions than the rest of us did, especially me. She had her eye on her goals from day one not from day 35,653 like me. My biological sister (and other best friend) and I always dreamed of someone loving us the way my brother loved her. It was complete, absolute and unconditional. Her illness and subsequent death was tragic but I feel like someone up above knew it was coming and threw a few blessings at us to help us deal with the blow.
For the first time in our lives, my sisters and I took a cruise together (our only sisters only trip) in April of 2019 and went to the Bahamas. We had the kind of stupid fun only sisters can while drinking (playing pranks, having delusions due to Ambien… you know… the normal stuff). I don’t know how this trip came about but we talked about it briefly and then suddenly we were boarding the ship. I have never had so much fun in my entire life. We noticed by the end of the trip that Michelle was looking and acting a little run down. She napped and that was very unusual for her. She had always been the healthiest one of us which I think is one reason it hit us so hard. We never in a million years saw this coming for her.
After the cruise, we all went back to our lives. My sister and I live in the same town with our mother and Michelle lived with my brother. During the week they lived in a town outside of Atlanta and, on the weekends, they lived at their lake house in South Carolina. We went back to our routines and heard through the grapevine (my mom) that Michelle had a cold that wouldn’t go away. She was scheduled to come up the next weekend so we could all have a get together. This was not unusual as she came up on a near constant basis to help us with our parents. And by help us, I mean do most of it because my sister and I in Augusta both worked full time and could hardly ever get any time off. But nothing could have prepared us for that visit.
As you can probably guess, she told us she had terminal lung cancer. We all cried together and started our own research and advice sharing. I practically shoved home remedy articles down her t throat. We all took turns going to her house to sit with her when she could no longer walk. She died less than five months from her diagnosis after a terrible ,but blessedly short, battle.
It was a heartbreaking loss for all of us. I got married months later and had a framed picture of us three girls on the cruise sitting in a seat in her honor. I wanted to feel like she was there in spirit. She told me multiple times that I had made a good choice in my husband and she was right (if only I had listened to her the first two times).
Her daughter, my niece, turned up pregnant soon after her death and I can’t help but feel her final gift to us was that precious baby girl. Her name is Piper Michelle. She means more to us than anyone could ever imagine. She is so very loved.
This picture below I took on my honeymoon when I got out of the truck. I can’t help but feel her presence everywhere I go . Like everyone else in the world that has grieved a loved one, I would like something written in stone to tell me she’s ok but this will have to be enough. For now.
Life has become so tragically short to me but I will no longer not do anything because of fear holding me back. Because what do I have to lose really? She would want that for all of us.