Back in October 2011 I wrote to you about my sister, Lori, who has stage IV lung cancer. Since then, Lori went from being very sick to having a glimmer of hope that she would either beat the cancer or wrestle it into remission. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, Lori did what just about any normal American would do; go shopping, enjoy an evening out with friends, even go to a wedding. The chemotherapy caused her to lose her hair and drop some weight, but she had some energy, donned a wig, and was fighting the good fight. All was great until about two weeks ago.
I went into the hospital room to find Lori in a hospital bed at all of ninety-something pounds with a CPAP mask on to help her breathe. Her doctors confirmed her tumors were now covering 40% of her lungs and that they were practicing "aggressive comfort" to ensure she is in no pain and to help her with anxiety. She eats very little food but still wants a Starbucks coffee every morning, triple grande latte with three sugars in the raw. She can only remove the CPAP mask for a few seconds at a time while eating then has to place it back on again so she could get a next breath.
A few hours ago I got to spend about 15 private minutes with Lori before going to the airport. I talked with her about the fun things we did together over the years. How after teaching her how to develop websites she got so good at it that I started asking her for technical help (for proof of how good she got, go to Google or Bing and search "take out pizza". Lori's client Gioves Pizza typically comes up in the top three out of millions of web sites), We talked about how much my wife and kids enjoyed "Auntie Lori" and how much Lori loves them. How my son called her "The Rabbit" because she would always eat a salad at lunch. And how she is not only my sister but she is truly my best friend next to my wife. She told me how she wants to come to Seattle after she gets better so she can sit on our balcony and ride on our boat. I told her I'd be happy for her to be a passenger while I crashed the boat into our slip (new boat captain, you know). We told each other that this was not "goodbye" but "see you later". I kissed and hugged her, left her room, and sobbed all the way to the airport. I'm now writing this while flying back home to Seattle; having to stop frequently to regain my composure, so excuse any typos.
So I'm going to tell you exactly the same thing I told you in October, because I'm sure many of you didn't get the message the first time. Remember what's important. Work hard, but don't let work chronically steal time away from you and your family. Grow your leadership skills to where others want to follow you, but don't do so at the expense of your being a leader of your own family. Take an interest in growing others, but not at the expense of teaching your children about your legacy. Be truthful and candid when dealing with others, but also remember that there's a person on the other side of the message that needs you to be empathetic. I say these things as much a reminder to myself as to each of my readers.
It will never be goodbye Lori, It's see you later. I love you big sis.
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