The following article was written almost a year ago, not long after we lost my sister, Doris. Then I abandoned it, but knew I’d have to come back to it some day. I need to share this with you so I can look at the “News” page of my site without seeing the last post.
Thanks to everyone who expressed support. We miss her every day. Her great-grandchild, the infant she met just months before she died, looks so much like her. Life continues, in spite of almost overwhelming absences.
As you can imagine, this is not an easy update. We lost my sister on August 2, 2013. If you read my earlier article you know that she had lung cancer and was being treated with a new drug that specifically targeted the type of cancer she had.
That drug did show signs of working. The swelling around her liver was reduced. But some new symptoms caused her to tell me she was afraid the tiny tumors that were found in her brain a few months before had grown. We were all unsure whether this drug would cross the blood-brain barrier and affect those tumors. A brain scan showed that not only had they not grown, they were gone.
That good news caused us all to breath a sigh of relief. Her daughters were able to enjoy a small vacation at the beach. Sister Peg, the third of us girls, was also able to get away for a respite.
Toward the end of the get-away week, though, Doris’ symptoms worsened pretty dramatically. It was thought that she now had cancer in her spinal column and the lining (meninges) of her brain. I think that is what Valerie Harper is now being treated for. It is a difficult thing to diagnose or treat, and Doris was already depleted from the events of the past 2 years. Her family didn’t want to put her through a painful ordeal with questionable results. She spent her last days at home surrounded by loved ones. She suffered little pain overall, and we are all so grateful for that.
The decline and loss came so quickly that it has been very hard to absorb. The worst times come when I think to call her or go to some place we’ve been together. Peg came last weekend and we met with our brothers and sisters-in-law in the way we always did. Doris’ gentle spirit was there with us. She urged us on in our jokes and shared love.
I am so thankful to have had the love and support that Doris offered me in my life. I am also very thankful to have my other siblings and other family to help me to survive this loss.
I hurt for my brother-in-law, who has memories at every turn. I hurt for my niece who tried so very hard to save her mother, and for her sister who soldiered through it and did what needed to be done. I am so glad that Doris’ sons are strong and stable and have good support in their lives. Sister Peg lost her life-long best friend, one she saw several times a week and talked with every day. Doris’ grandchildren, too, will miss her so.
We have all lost one who provided us almost unconditional support. We are so lucky to have had that sort of love in our lives.
R.I.P. Doris Burns, you were a beacon for me.
In her memory, several family members and a good friend contributed toward a brick in the new Longleaf Garden in Anniston. It will have the following inscription, which was found in one of Doris’ books:
If I keep a green
bough in my heart,
the singing bird
will come. anon.