We lost Wendy (far right), the Best Sister-in-Law in the World, on Saturday, April 18th. She was 62.
She had been battling cancer for over a year. Recently, the cancer (leukemia, this time) had returned and her immune system was compromised when 3 different strains of flu hit. She had a high fever and difficulty breathing.
Wendy was in the hospital for 7 weeks, most of them in intensive care. She had already battled through 2 bone marrow transplants, a mastectomy, and various bouts of chemotherapy. When she went to the emergency room, she was having trouble breathing and spiking a fever.
Over the next weeks, her fever would continue and the doctors expressed their desire to re-start chemotherapy in order to boost her white blood cell count and her body’s ability to fight off the flu. Wendy soldiered on.
She was intubated three times. Doctors don’t like to leave you on a respirator for too long, and Governor Cuomo of New York says that 80% of patients who are intubated don’t come off the machines. Wendy did, and sat in a chair and was transferred out of the ICU and was potentially going to be sent to a rehabilitation center, where she would have to relearn how to walk.
These last few weeks, she has not been able to have in-person visitors.
When the call came in at 3 a.m., Mark (her husband) was told he needed to come. Wendy was having great difficulty breathing and was probably dying. He could bring one other person.
Mark and Matt, Wendy’s oldest son who is marrying Samantha in June, went to the hospital. She was not unconscious, but was aware of her children, with whom they face-timed: Megan in Denver and Michael, the youngest, in St. Louis. Mark and Matt were bedside.
I will always remember Wendy’s infectious smile and her spirit. I remember wheeling my huge VCR into my classroom in Silvis to show my class there her appearance on “Wheel of Fortune,” where she won a trip to Hawaii and a lot of Gucci merchandise. (Her final puzzle was “Zero In On,” which also seems unfair). I remember being pregnant at the same time, with Wendy giving birth to Matt forty-four days before I gave birth to my youngest, Stacey (we have the pregnant photos, belly-to-belly to prove it).
Life isn’t fair; Wendy should be here. We shouldn’t be scurrying to set up a Zoom family hook-up to memorialize her and restricting mourners in a church or cemetery to 10 people. She should be attending Matt’s wedding in June and having a great time, living in the moment.
Wendy was the World’s Best Sister-in-Law. I’m wearing the gold earrings she gave me for Xmas. I think she may even have liked me. I will miss her at every family gathering and think of her every time “Wheel of Fortune” comes on, oddly enough.
Rest in peace, Wendy. We love you and we will always remember and miss you. You put up a courageous fight and you should be here with us.