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  • Writer's pictureKristin Lindstrom

Episode 110: It's Hard to Say Goodbye

It’s taken me many weeks to sit down to write about our beloved niece, Erin, who died of metastatic breast cancer in February at the age of 46. She was a remarkable person who faced her cruel disease with courage and fortitude, hoping to get as much time as possible to spend with her family, especially her son Mark.


I had always hoped for a good relationship with my nieces, but never wanted to press too closely. In the years following college, Erin studied law, got married, and had a son. She lived in several Virginia towns over the years. She contracted breast cancer and a couple of years later it moved to her spine. She started bi-weekly treatments and was on some kind of treatment, some worse than others,  for the rest of her life.

Here we are at our wedding. My nieces Erin (left) and Nicky,

are standing on my feet. They ran away the instant this picture

was taken, leaving green grass stains on my white wedding shoes.

How to help? At first I was at a loss and then I hit on what I thought was a good idea. Every time Erin had a treatment – never fun – I sneaked over to her house and left a ‘treatment kit’ on her doorstep. Sometimes it was in a basket, sometimes in a bag, but it generally contained a book of cartoon collections such as Gary Larson or the Baby Blues. Usually a bottle of wine, good chocolates, and funny tchotchkes I’d picked up in my travels through thrift shops and catalogs.


She later told me that every time she came home from treatment and saw the kit, she got a little lift.


Mission accomplished.


This turned out to be a turning point in our relationship. Soon Erin was coming over to our house once a week, sometimes twice, for wine, snacks, and a lot of bad jokes. We talked about everything. She vented and we received, or we vented, and she took it all in.


We were thrilled that a young person actually wanted to spend time with us old codgers. Often, even if we were trying not to pressure her into coming over, she would initiate a visit, and a text would appear asking when we were free. We were never happier.


Our trap worked!


Erin was smart, beautiful, funny, and stubborn. If she settled on a point of view, you could forget about talking her out of it. She was a wizard with her cellphone; she could have been an itinerant cyber doctor. With blinding speed, her thumbs flew across the keyboard. She actually diagnosed several conditions of ours, most importantly Perry’s polymyalgia rheumatica. A holistic treatment for my sleep apnea – peppermint oil on your pillow. It helps. And several more.


And now she’s gone.


We loved her like our own daughter. We will miss her every day and have but one request of her.


Haunt us.


Let us come to the porch and find your wicker chair gently rocking, a glass of rose miraculously poured and ready for sipping.


Our house has no drafts, but we welcome you to create one, made up of your unique essence floating by.


Apparitions are welcome, even if you’re feeling grumpy.


Lay a gentle hand on our heads as we sleep. We’ll know it’s you.


Let us see you in the garden leaning over as if to instruct Mark how to properly weed or put in a plant, as you did so often.


You could be our spirit guide. You know we need one.


Perry and I will look for you in all of life’s little details. We will miss you always.


Erin with her son Mark and her husband Lars.


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1 Comment

May 14

It is a lovely tribute for a lovely woman. You did well Kristin. ❤️ Hugs to you and Perry.


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