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Today is my sister Mary’s birthday.
It is a miracle we thought would never happen.

In 2006, She was put on hospice with the diagnosis of death pending.
She was wheelchair bound, as she slumped over in the chair, with her 90 pound starving frame. One really won’t understand it all, without the pictures. They paint a picture of our reality in ways, that words can never do.
Her husband died before she did on July 26th, 2006. He was her caregiver.
It was a sad and horrible day for us all. Unexpected. Shocking. Numbing.
My sister who was dying just became a widow.
We brought her home in the quiet silence of the car, each of us in our own thoughts. She slept.
Soon our family room became a resting place for the dying.
Instead, she lived.
Her desire to live was stronger, than the force within her, to die.
Even though we helped save a life.
It was a journey none of us would ever want to repeat.
She was drowning in the sea of alcoholism, and like life guards, we jumped in and saved her.
It was hard, it was really hard. I don’t know how to swim, so it was very exhausting for me especially. We gave round the clock care. I slept by her bed on a cot for 6 weeks. Giving medications, every two hours, and spoon feeding her bites of mild foods.
Detoxing the demons out of her daily.
It was an incredibly hard experience, yet in the midst of the difficulty, we had some comedy relief.
Remembering the middle of the night, when I was SO exhausted to take her outside to smoke. I gave her one that was unlit, as she laid in her bed. She smoked it for 4 days. The same cigarette. Not ever realizing, it was never lit. I just leaned over her hospital bed with a dish, and said ‘dump your ashes’, and she did. There were none, but she didn’t know or care. She wanted her cigarette. I would watch her inhale and exhale pretend smoke. Feeling relieved I did not have to go out in the dark of the night.
The hospice team said it was a great idea. We have all laughed at the image of her, in bed smoking the unlit cigarette. I was just very tired and smoking was not important to me.
In 6 weeks, we brought her down from a massive amount of straight vodka, to two small doses, prescribed. You can’t totally remove all alcohol it has to be removed slowly. Her doctor was marvelous and knew what he was doing. He believed in the process, and helped us through many difficult moments. The hospice team extremely helpful, and most of all the Chaplain.
Almost four years later, she is alcohol free. Healthy. Living in an assisted living home, and thriving. She weighs 156 pounds and her brain is coming back.
It is a story of love, sacrifice, hope and sister hood. It is a story of family.
Our family.
A journey of life, death, and life again.
It is a story of sisters.
So today I wish my sister a Happy 57th Birthday.
In fact I tease her now; saying to her, “you better take classes on how to take care of the elderly. You will probably be taking care of ME some day.”
If you would have asked me, could I ever do all that? I would have said NO WAY. I am not a caregiver.
God brings to each one of us different seasons of our lives.
If we are not prepared, He will give us the strength, the patience and the willing heart. To do what needs to be done, for that season.
We brought my sister home to die, in a safe place so she would not be alone. We had no idea what we were doing, but God was with us through the process.
I am thankful that my sister chose life. This story is about her journey.

Her desire to better herself. I am thankful that she can enjoy her grand children now. Be healthy for her children, and even be healthy for us. I am thankful that I can say to her “Happy Birthday.”
It is a story of sisters.