Suffering a loss in the family is something I am unfortunately familiar with, after losing our son Brian. Brian represented the loss of the hope and expectations of being a parent. He was with us for the 20 weeks of pregnancy, and a few hours after that. It seemed like something we would never get over, and we never have. But life went on, my wife and I were blessed with twins a little over a year later, and we remember Brian as our first child.
I August, my mom broke the news to me that my baby sister Alexis was sick. They didn’t know what it was, and she was going to Stanford University Hospital to find out what it was. When I call Alexis my baby sister, she really was the baby. She was 12 years younger than me, so our paths crossed infrequently over the years. By the time she was walking and talking, I was playing football and partying in High School. We didn’t have much in common when we were young because of the age difference. When she was in High School, I was out of college, had my own apartment, and was into my career
We became closer as we got older, I got married, she was in college, and we both loved to cook, and enjoy life. She was way more mature for her age and was fun to spend time with. Then she graduated to college, and boom, moved to Vegas to be with this guy who she met on a school trip to Australia. She met the love of her life and was going to start a new life with Mike. Now I often say that if Mike and I knew each other, we would be friends anyway. Both of us are into cars, like to cook, swap BBQ recipes, and love Bourbon and good dry wines. I would joke with Alexis that she married a younger version of me.
Mike and Alexis had twin girls who are 13 years younger than my twins. We flew out for the Baptism and we had so much fun. The girls love their older cousins, and when they came to NY we had a great time together. That was just over a year ago. We kept in touch as much as busy parents can, late at night, when the kids are going to bed or eating, and usually late at night since she lived in California.
I always said that Alexis was the best of all of us. She was the most patient in the family, could deal with the totally different personalities of her older brother and sister, and was the most attentive to calling my parents often. She lit up a room everywhere she went and made friends there too. She was the center of attention, not because she wanted to be, but because she had that type of personality that everyone wanted to be near.
From the first call that I got that she was sick, to when she got the diagnosis that she had cancer, we talked more often. I didn’t want to call her too much because she needed to be with her 3-year-old girls. She called me the day before my knee surgery, worrying about her older brother, while she was dealing with cancer. That is the type of person she was. I spoke to her two days before she went to the hospital for the surgery to remove the tumor. I assured her she would be fine, she was young and strong. But Friday came, and they couldn’t remove it. It spread too far, and they had to try a different route. She wasn’t up to talking to anyone. Monday, they put in a stent to help her be prepared for the next step, and she was gone.
That was the phone call that I never thought I would get. My brother-in-law Mike telling me that my baby sister was gone. We cried together, and I assured him like a big brother would that we will always be here for him and those beautiful girls. Our community has been so good to them, sending them books, crafts, and even princess dress-up outfits. They don’t really understand what is going on, but Mike is doing a great job of letting them know that Alexis lives in their hearts. Please, go out today, and let your brother or sister know you love them.