Two years ago today, my lovely, wonderful incredibly strong sister-in-law died.
Michele had battled MS for over 15 years, but MS isn't what killed her. She had a medical procedure for something unrelated to MS and as the Dr. was finishing up, Michele's heart stopped. Sadly, no crash cart was in the room. It took them over 20 minutes to call a code. And Michele died.
Her death was a mistake. The result? Catastrophic. My brother and their three sons were...and still are...heartbroken. Her extended family, crushed. It was the worst nightmare possible.
Michele was incredibly strong in the face of a disease that tried its best to stop her. She never complained thru the days of pain so intense she could only sleep for one, maybe two hours tops. When she could no longer walk without assistance. When her migraines from experimental medicine raged for days on end. You never heard her bitch or moan. She would go out of her way to ask about you...how you were, what was new in your life, any new gossip you cared to share, any jokes you had to tell.
Michele LOVED bunnies. And by love I mean ADORED bunnies.
She had collections of bunnies all over her house. No one was ever at a loss when it came to her birthday, a bunny would do just fine.
Michele was married to my brother Brian for just under 30 years. High school sweethearts. My brother told me shortly after his first date with Michele that he was going to marry her. He wanted to have kids with her right away...he was hoping for three boys...so they could grow up together and they could all experience life as a close-knit family.
They had three boys...Tom, Matt & Jeff. Then three dogs over the years...Raisin (aka Mrs. Raisin Puppy), Razor & Blade.
And that was their little tight-knit family. Incredibly close. Wonderfully loving. Over the years both my brother & Michele experienced medical problems...MS for Michele and work-related issues for my brother that eventually ended in medical retirement for both of them. Physical pain was a part of their daily lives on an hourly basis. They helped each other and loved each other.
What I've learned since Michele died is that life really IS short (as trite as that may sound). It's so precious. Don't waste an opportunity to be kind, be loving, say yes, have an adventure, try something new. Don't take people for granted. Don't take anything for granted.
The last conversation I had with Michele was 3-4 weeks before she died. I was excited about the new job I'd taken (my current job) and she loved hearing about the multitude of bunnies that I'd encounter walking into work. She was SO into bunnies! And right before we hung up she said "everytime you see a bunny, think of me".
So that's what I do. Every little bunny I see, I say 'Hi Michele.' And 'I miss you Michele.' 'I love you Michele.'
We all miss you very much. Not a day goes by that we don't remember your spirit, your laugh, your fierce love of family, friends, doggies...and bunnies. Another 20 minutes, 20 days, 20 years would have been so much better than what we were handed.