Empress of the Universe

Thursday, August 31, 2006

My Courageous Sisters

My sisters are all so incredibly courageous.

Frequent visitors to this blog know that my sister Chris has a million things wrong with her, including the fact that she hasn't taken food by mouth in at least three? four? ten years? She's allergic to a million everyday things that make simple excursions -- like going to a restaurant, grocery shopping or visiting highway service centres to pee -- into life-or-death risks of anaphylaxis. She hooks up to several IVs every day - you should have seen the looks (no, stares) we got when we hooked her IV bag to the passenger seat sun visor for our trip home from Michigan a few weeks ago. She has incredible energy, even though she's losing her strength. She's the loving mother of two extraordinary teens, a wife, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, cousin, friend, neighbour -- and she never lets anyone know (except perhaps her nurse) how shitty she really feels. She's the bravest, most courageous, generous person I know. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Recent visitors may know that my sister Roni has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She'll be operated on this Friday. We know for certain that she'll require at least 25 chemotherapy treatments and then radiation. She's 41 years old. Like Chris, Roni is an inspiring woman. She's intelligent, funny, committed, passionate about social justice (and injustice). She's an amazing and talented writer, the loving mother of three extraordinary teens, a wife, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, cousin, friend, neighbour AND the executive director of an incredible and important not-for-profit agency. Shannon and I spent this evening with Roni, her family and many of her children's friends. Roni has incredible energy, great plans for the future and tremendous courage.

My sister Lori moved with her family to Indiana just over two years ago. That takes courage, I'll tell ya! She's gone from seeing us, her family, oh, maybe 10 times a week to seeing everyone, maybe, 3 times a year. I think it's the best thing she could ever have done for her children and her relationship with her husband. Lori looks the best she has looked in the past 15+ years. She's beautiful, strong, independent, and assertive. Like Chris and Roni, Lori is the loving mother of two extraordinary children (one a teen), a wife, sister, daughter, sister-in-law, cousin, friend, neighbour and volunteer with her children's schools and activities. Lori never writes or calls just to complain -- although I know how much she misses us is directly proportionate to the amount of baking she does!

Me? I get a headache and I'm in bed for the rest of the day. I cut my finger and have to avoid strenuous activity for a week. I hurt my leg climbing a ladder and you would have thought I had shrapnel wounds, the bandages were so dramatic.

I don't have the courage to not eat, fight cancer, raise more than one child, or move far from home. I'm not at all brave or courageous. In fact, I'm really quite ashamed of the whiner that I am.

But I think I know where I fit in here: if one of my sisters needs me, I'm there.

No questions asked, no job too rotten, no trip too long. I may not have the energy to weed my own garden, clean my own bathroom, tie my own scarves -- but Sisters, if you need me, I am there for you.


Blogger Angelove said...

That brought tears to my eyes Michelle. I hope you realize that the fact that you are there for them, is more valuable than all the money in the world, and, that fact alone may be all anyone really needs in this world.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

You show your bravery when you do something like drive 1 hr (each way) at midnight to help. We see your courage through your support. We draw strength through your encouragement and comfort through your presence. You ask for nothing in return. Yours is a generous gift - to know that we are not only sisters, but friends.
Thank God you can eat, do not have to fight cancer and live close to home...we need you! Luv ya' lots!

Do the math: Roni is 42.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Michelle Henderson said...

Empress says: Doing the math here. If I am 45 years old and Lori is 3 years younger and Roni is 4 years younger than I am, then that would mean that Lori is 42 and Roni is 41.

But the funny thing is, Lori is actually 43 and Roni is actually 42.

It's a good thing we're not calculating this any time between April 25 and July 13 -- that would have made Lori and Roni both 42.

12:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from the issue of math - which I happen to think is highly overated anyhow, I had tears in my eyes reading your blog.

You are absolutely right - you can't possibly have any issues right now, we need YOU to be the sane one - the one in control. We need YOU to tell us when to worry. We need YOU to weed our gardens, clean our toaster ovens, learn to tie head scarves.

Thank you sister. That really was beautiful.

...oh, and we love you too.


9:35 PM  
Anonymous Lori said...


I will forever dedicate all my butter tarts to you just for writing what you did. Yes moving away was hard but knowing that you have always been just a phone call away has helped. Knowing that you would be here when I need you and knowing that you are there when other people in our family need you. I love everything about you and my sisters. That is why my sisters will always be my bestest friends.


5:19 PM  

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