Daily Archives: November 13, 2022

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Ski & Me: Counting Our Blessings

During the week of November 8, 2020, my sister began to experience difficulty standing and walking. She went to see an orthopedic specialist to no avail. By November 12th, she was clearly not feeling well at all. And so I called 911. Accustomed to being a Super Woman, she refused to go to the hospital, opting instead to make an appointment to see our family doctor the next day, who would run a few tests.

That was not to be.

On the morning of Friday, November 13, 2020, I awoke, earlier than usual, to check in on her—and found her laying in bed, the covers thrown off, her face expressionless, as her eyes stared blankly at the ceiling. No matter what I said, how loud I yelled, how hard I clapped my hands, she was completely nonresponsive. I called 911 again, and this time, she was rushed to the hospital.

She lost three days of her life. Somehow, someway, she made it through and came back to us. She was in the hospital for a solid month, but eventually, she underwent life-saving back surgery. Complications set in over time, and by early October 2021, she was back in the hospital, and we were told there was nothing left for them to do. I was shocked. I asked the doctors, “Well, what are you saying? What are you talking about? Does she have a month to live?”

“A month, if that,” one of the doctors replied. But certainly no more than six months. I signed my sister over to in-home hospice care, and brought her home to die. By October 17, 2021, she was indeed, dying. Dear family members stopped in to say goodbye. I called the funeral home and the cemetery and began making arrangements; doctors and nurses told us her death was imminent.

As day melted into night, with my sister laying in that bed again, nonresponsive, I put on some of her favorite music. She loved all genres of music and was always a great dancer. So, former mobile college DJ that I am, I picked one of her favorite R&B dance tracks to keep the mood pleasant. Out of the speakers came the sounds of Shalamar’s memorable 1982 hit, “A Night to Remember” [YouTube link]. As I sat there beside her, telling her how much I loved her, I saw tears forming in her closed eyes, one of them slowly rolling down the right side of her face. And she began mouthing the words to that song: “Get ready tonight … Gonna make this a night to remember.” Her eyes opened. And now, my eyes swelled with tears.

They told us not to put too much faith in this “end-of-life rally“. But these experts didn’t know my sister. I would later joke that Lazarus may have had Jesus, but Liz had Shalamar.

With her strong heart and her strong love of life and her strong will to live, she has somehow confounded every medical authority. More than a year later, two years after she nearly died the first time, she is still with us. She will not surrender.

This is a season of Thanksgiving, and we will surely post some pics around that holiday. But today, we count our blessings that we are here—that she is here—to talk about November 13, 2020, when, at the time, we didn’t think she’d see November 14th.