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And Then There Were Three

I come from a family of five siblings, one boy and four girls, but there are only three of us left now - three girls. Yes, I know, we are not girls anymore, but in my mind's eye we are.

My brother died in the summer of 1996, having announced at Christmas 1995 that he only had six months to live. We all objected and said no, you are fine, and he looked like he was. But he was not. Cancer took him quickly and he chose to die at home with his wife and children and friends who stopped by sharing stories.

My older sister (by two years) died the summer of 2019 also from cancer. But she had been fighting it for so many years, along with her MS, that I think all of us thought she would beat them both. When she fell and could not get up and went to a place for rehab, we thought that she would go back home just as she had before. But not this time. This time was different. This time she went to hospice where she could receive palliative care, the family could gather about her, and everyone could share stories.

In my work I talk to people about the papers they should have if they can’t manage for themselves or if (when) they die. They ask me if these papers will “work” if they are ill. Will doctors and family follow their directives? What if their children do not honor their decisions for funeral or memorial services? What if someone challenges their plan?

I wish I had answers, but I don’t. The more I experience the deaths of friends and family the more I understand that I don’t understand. That we all do the best we can when we realize that forever is no more. That there is an ending, but we have no idea when it will be or how it will come. We fumble along as best we can, holding each other up and crying along the way.

When I write these blogs, I choose a picture and I wondered what I would do for this one. There were a few I liked, but finally it was between three women sitting on a bench looking at a sunset or three girls playing. You know the one I chose because as I said - we will always be girls.

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