Archive for January 2015

My Sister is Dying, Please Get to Know Her First

Monday, January 12, 2015

I've been wanting to write about my sister for a long time now but I keep getting stuck. The thoughts come too fast and my feelings are too intense. I swing wildly between sadness and joy in any given instant. My sister is LeeAnn. Here she is.

Everyone has different portals that they access to touch the Divine and right now, you are looking at my family's brush with Heaven. She sits at the very center of everything and we revolve around her. She's our heart.

And maybe the sweetest thing is how my mom and dad are her heart. I'm writing now with tears in my eyes because while I really really want to tell the whole world about her and about the life of service my parents have devoted to her it is incredibly hard. Because we are starting to say goodbye and it is just too much. 

She has colon cancer.

I hate cancer. And when my sister hurts I can't stand it.

But even in the most awful situation Lani is our messenger from God. She is our metaphor for His plan, His timing, His comfort and peace.

Also, she is just so darn cute!

I wrote those words over a month ago and then gave up because it made me cry the terrible headache inducing crys.

It's time to try again because Lani's time with us is drawing to a close, her doctor says two weeks at the most, and I am determined that my little corner of the internet know how fabulous she is!

On any given day, okay on ALL given days, you will find her in her posterpedic bead in the middle of my parents' family room surrounded by her court of five, my mom, my dad, one of her amazing caregivers, Iris or Jill, and the two dogs who are nearly always at the end of her bed, Bodey and Sophie. This is her realm. She is fed through a tube, she can't walk or talk, she tosses her toys and we bring them back to her, and her diaper has to be changed all the time, because she thinks that's funny.
Fierce doggy guards. Not.
It's kind of amazing the way her personality can shine through the tremendous cage her body has become. She loves music and so she always has her iPhone (yes, she has an iPhone...go figure) in one hand playing her favorite country tunes, or Mindy Gledhill, or The Lower Lights. She gets her love of country from my parents. When I arrived at middle school in the Bay Area knowing all the words to  The Oak Ridge Boys' Greatest Hits my appalled friends took me in hand and introduced me to Foreigner and the Go-Go's. Lani never had that chance :-) I don't think she minds. Here is a picture of my sweet parents, Gary and Kendra. And actually, I just googled "top songs of 1982" and The Oakridge Boys' "Elvira" is in the top forty. So dad was cool.

My parents are like Lani whisperers. Her language is very subtle, well, except when she's crying at decibel ten all through the night. But mostly they interpret her little signals, a clenched hand or a flinch when she's turned. They are always sensitive to anything that might indicate discomfort or illness. She is, of course, super prone to infections. My mom can smell Lani's ear and know if it's infected. How's that for a superpower? She hardly sleeps at night, and one of them is always up if she's up. My mom jokes that all of Lani's shirts should be from Guess because "guessing" is what they are always doing as they try to figure out what she needs. 

Somehow I have digressed into the more sad parts of Lani language. My mom and dad are also masters at making her laugh and smile and coo and talk. Her talking is like how a four month old talks. I absolutely love her smile. The corners of her mouth practically curl up like an elf. It's delightful! Unless she is in pain, happy is pretty much her favorite mood. She will smile and giggle to herself for hours and we have no idea what is making her so happy. Angel jokes, I imagine. I cannot figure out how to turn this video around, but you get the idea.

Also, she likes to cluck. I don't know how that became a game with her (actually I think my mom invented it) but if you smoosh your face up against her cheek and you cluck your tongue she will smile and cluck back at you. We have whole clucking conversations about, just, everything. She only has three words. Ma and Da are reserved for moments of tremendous distress, but she says "guss" all. the. time. I am very curious who Guss is. I think that when my dad meets her in heaven she will greet him with a giant "Hi Guss!"

Her other great talent is The Cuddle. When you want to hang with Lani there is really only one way it's going down; you literally have to get in bed with her. You'll snuggle up and she will take your hand in her very strong grip. She may be in a laughing mood where you can tickle her face and tell jokes, or she may be in a very soft mood where she will smile and coo and put her hand around your head and pull you to her. She will turn up her face and she just loves it when you sing softly in her ear. With her, you're either in bed with her, or you might as well be in Alaska.

You can see how losing her makes us feel like maybe we are losing the piece of heaven we've been so blessed to have. I am trying hard to focus on how wonderful it will be for her to have a body that is whole, to be with her Heavenly Father, and to imagine her in celestial glory. But really, I think she is pretty perfect how she is now. And I'm not quite ready for goodbye.

Which is probably another eternal lesson she is helping me with. Oh my gosh! My thoughts are EVERYWHERE. I feel blessed and like screaming at the same time. And I don't understand how the world can keep spinning when this is happening, it feels like everyone should be sad. I better stop writing and reign in the melodrama. Thank you friends, for letting me share this with you. I hope you can see at least a bit how wonderful my sister is.


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