What My Dying Sister Taught Me


Sadly, I'm not new at losing loved ones. Being much younger than my family on both sides, I've had to experience loss a great deal. Father died in 1979, mother in 1998, my brother in 2001, my oldest sister in 2005. Now, in 2022, I am facing another painful loss, the last sibling to be by my side growing up. 

I am sharing some of the last texts I shared with my sister, who was unable to speak (laryngeal cancer). If you have the luxury of time to help transition a loved one, help them get a perspective on their life here and the afterlife. It's the kindest last gift you can give. 

Thank you to all of my friends who were praying for my sister as she transitioned to join the rest of our family in paradise.

I wouldn't have picked a different sister as the middle child, the artist, the singer, the hippie flower girl, full of love, and smiles, tie dyeing our t-shirts, painting my nails,, macrameing and crocheting, singing like Stevie Nicks, working the earth with her hands, and gracing us all with her golden soul.

Growing up she was the classic hippie child with love and hope and questioning authority. She sang in the choir in our Methodist Church and wrote poetry, loving nature and water, and all creative outlets of expression.

One time, as kids, she said her favorite color was "clear."

Here's a song that reminds me of here so much -

You never have to be perfect. You aren't being graded. Just take the human experience and live every day in the magic of being here. Find the beauty, the laughter, and the creative inspirations. Love with bear hugs and loud tears. Question everything. Seek peace from within and from nature.

Give thanks every single day, no matter how tough the experience of being human. You are brave to volunteer this time on earth and some day will be greeted like a returning warrior.

Live it like my barefoot, lightning-bug-catching, water kelpie sister, I love to refer to as "Kacky Doodle."

Don't let one day go by without telling your loved ones how they have affected you, the example they set, and why they have always been precious.

"Magic isn't created, it's recognized" (Sharon Day)

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."

As her condition weakened under hospice care, she texted me...

Sis, dying ain't easy. It isn't highway to heaven. I'm missing the peaceful part.

It's hard to know what to say, but I thought about helping her reframe the experience as none of us can fight the process...

This side it's rough. Imagine what a baby feels being birthed. Hon, when you shed this sore and tired human suit, you have a euphoria never imagined. 

Once there, no one wants to go back.

I want you to focus on how you did this crazy ride and bounced back after all God put before you. You are stronger and more intelligent than any of us kids with the purest heart. 

Oh sis, your loving heart has been your greatest weakness and your greatest strength. 

It's a battle internally going into the unknown. We do this when we leave home, give birth, over and over. The good news is what you think is the worst that can happen, you find out is the greatest gift.

The other day I recalled something poignant. If you look at everything that happens in your life, it begins to actually make sense. Every event changed you, prepared you for the future. In the end, there are no coincidences. Destiny. Fate...

I was a kid and I loved going to the swimming pool. I would jump off the low dive, but not the high dive.

One day, I decided I needed to see what the high dive was all about. I climbed the tall ladder and my older sister, Kathy, blocked me from coming back down when I got scared.

I wanted to go back down the ladder, but she told me stubbornly that I had only one way down and that was into the water.

Those were very tense moments before I embraced my fate and delicately leapt off.

Once in the water, I realized it wasn't as bad as it seemed from above. I got back to paddling my way to the steps.

Flash forward to 50 years later and Kathy is on the precipice of entering the great reward and in her own way, once again blocking the ladder.

I can't make this go away. I have to face it. I can't go back now that I'm on the precipice.

She didn't know it then, but she was prepping me.
Never let a day go by that people you love are in the dark. Every move in your relationship preps you for a future event.

Learn the good things. Let go of the bad. Embrace the lessons. Be human. Be real. Be okay when there is a new reality.

You will land in the water, you will swim, you will get back on land. And when you look up at that high diving board, you will smile. You did that, even not knowing what it would feel like. You'll forget the fear and recall the victory.

You can tell when you're recovered from grief when you can talk about and think about that person and you smile with good memories instead of crying with emptiness.

Our memorial to those we loved starts with tears and ends with their lessons, influence, and memories tattooed into our very character. No matter what we did while we were here, those were mortal deeds. What we leave behind is a heritage of love and bonding.

(my brother scott - left, died at 43.
to the right is me - the baby
Tina - the eldest sister died at 50.
Kathy - far right made it to 66.
Mom died at 74
Dad died at 59.)
Scott (Cirrhosis - alcoholism)
Tina (rupture of adhesions and peritonitis following stomach stapling procedure for obesity)
Kathy (laryngeal cancer - smoker)
mom (smoker - emphysema)
dad (obesity, stress, traveling lifestyle, heart attack)

*If you're the younger sibling, look to the elders. They taught you what to do, and what NOT to do.
Everyone in my family died of lifestyle-related issues.

Their best legacy is to remember.
And to take it seriously.
They wanted to be examples of what to do and caution you on what to avoid.


It's dying on this side, it's being born on the other side. Players leveling up in the game of "life" in all its forms. A celebration of what they were in mortal form and of the rewards they are moving on to for playing this fragile game.

My last text to my sister when she knew her time was coming fast -

When I got the news, I looked out the window and there was a dove in my sunflower garden....