If you have been reading here, you may know that my mother-in-law, Donna, has been ill with cancer. She was home briefly, under the loving care of her children, her husband, her many friends and her medical team. On the evening of December 5, however, she returned to the hospital in an ambulance, experiencing the very worst of the chemotherapy side effects and ultimately, the aggressive cancer. Thursday was not a good day for her, but Friday was better. Her pain was being well-managed. Saturday, her medical team ran many tests. In the early hours of Sunday, December 9, she died and is forever lost to us.
The sudden loss, the sheer speed of the progression of her illness has been a shock to all of us. It was only late August that we all learned of the cancer. This woman, this mother, grandmother, friend, was strong, both in will and in body. She was 74 years old and was not on any medications--think on that. She was muscular and fit. She had intimidating biceps. She subsistence gardened, cut wood, maintained a homestead. She had a gorgeous smile and shining eyes that shone with wit and humor. She was private and contained in the way that many of her generation and geography are, but she was warm and loving, also. She was a partner to John for 45 years. She was a mother to me when I had none. She was our center. Her home was where we gathered. She was the keeper of memories and connections. Not one of us imagined she'd be gone so early.
I admired so much her strength, her willingness to lend a hand, her desire for knowledge and her caring nature. I thank her for dancing with my children, for her kindness, for sharing her wisdom, for believing in and loving her own children so fiercely that she shaped them into the astoundingly intelligent, kind, humans they both are today. Most of all, thank you for loving us and keeping us in your hearts always, as you will remain in ours always.