Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mary Steffens


When I was a little girl, my most important job was to take care of my little sister Mary. I did as good a job as a big sister could, but there wasn't anything I could do when she got Stage 2 breast cancer 13 years ago. And when it recurred 8 years ago, and metastasized to her lungs and bones and, finally, her brain, I was helpless. We talked on the phone at least once a week during the past year and a half, and every single day for the past several months. I'm very much at peace with our relationship--even when we were busy with children and other activities, we always made time for each other, and were never closer than during the past few years. But now there's a hole in my life, and in my heart, that can ever be filled. I spent this past week in Chicago--when I headed down there Saturday, I was pretty sure I'd be seeing her for the last time, but expected to be able to spend a week or two with her. But my nieces called me when I was just reaching the expressway and told me to hurry, and she slipped into a coma just a few hours after I arrived. She knew I was there--she squeezed my hand--but that was her last conscious act that I know of, and she died Monday afternoon. Several minutes after she died, her face relaxed into a smile. A genuine smile. After all her body had been through, she was at peace at last.

The nearest we could tell, there were about a thousand people at her wake, the church was very full at her funeral Friday, and all the stories I heard about her were amazing testimonials to a brave and loving woman who loved and whose love was returned by a great many people.

11 comments :

  1. You and your family are in my prayers.

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  2. Laura, I am very sorry for your loss. My sister has also had breast cancer not once but twice. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.

    Kathy

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  3. Laura, you have my sympathy and love.

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  4. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

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  5. So wonderful that you could be with her and give her some love to take with her. Sincere condolences to you and your family. Thank you for sharing a bit of your sister with us.

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  6. Laura:

    I been busy nd not keeping up with your blog and when I read that your sister died I was teary eye thinking about my nephew who died of cancer amd like you I was able to have one last act of communication before he died.

    My heart goes out to you!!

    Mike H.

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  7. Laura

    Your family is in my prayers.

    Steve

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  8. Laura, I am so sorry to hear about your sister. You have my deepest condolences.

    Carolyn H.

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  9. Laura - sorry for your loss, but glad you were there to squeeze her hand. - Hugh

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  10. Hi Laura,

    Sharon and I are very sorry for your loss. We have both lost family members to cancer. Your sister fought a courageous battle and she was blessed to have you around. I remember you talking about her when we birded last year on the North Shore. Ken N.

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  11. Laura, I'm so so sorry.

    I"m glad you got to be there, that she loved and knew it at the very end.

    Loads of hugs,
    Leila/NWHiker.

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