Sat, Jan 11, 2014 11:13 AM
It was the Sox in the World Series that brought me and my big
sister EJ Willis together again one last time.
EJ was diagnosed in May with metastasized breast cancer and was
told she needed to begin radiation and chemo treatments
immediately. When I heard the news, I wanted to make travel
arrangements from my home in the Gold Country foothills of
California to EJ's home in Killington to keep her company. But EJ
said no, she wanted to wait until she finished the first round of
chemo to see how she was feeling.
As Spring turned to Summer and Summer blazed into Fall, EJ
continued her cancer treatments and I continued to tell her I
wanted to come for a visit. With each round of chemo, she wanted to
wait to see if she was making improvements before she had company.
I wanted to respect her wishes and not intrude on her family, but
was frustrated that there was nothing I could do for her on the
other side of the country. In talking to her husband Ron, I learned
that the chemo wasn't having much effect on the cancer and the
prognosis wasn't good.
In October, my husband Mike and I cheered on the Red Sox as they
marched their way towards the World Series. Right after they won
the ALCS to secure their Series berth, our phone rang. It was EJ
calling from Vermont, which surprised me as it was after midnight
on the East Coast. We cheered the Sox going to the Series and
shared a good laugh over the opposing player who went
head-over-heels on the Green Monster trying to catch a home-run
I decided then that I was going to pay my sister a visit so we can
watch the Sox in the Series together. I was expecting her to demur
once again, but this time she was excited about the prospect of me
coming to visit, although she said she might not be a very good
'host'. I indicated that it didn't much matter as I wanted to see
her and we'd work it out.
Because of the side effects of her treatments, EJ was having dizzy
spells and could no longer drive. So for the 10 days I was in
Vermont, I became her chauffeur. Besides doctor's appointments and
trips to the pharmacy, we had girl time to go shopping, out to
lunch and get a pedicure. After our daily rounds, EJ would take a
nap, and then we'd wake her in time for supper and to watch the
first few innings of the game. She'd tire quickly and go to bed
early to cuddle with her two kitties Bella and Akiki. But when
she'd hear us hollering from the living room, she'd want to know
what was happening. So Ron or I would give her a play-by-play…Big
Papi just hit a 3-run homer!…Sox got called for interference at
3rd…runner got awarded home…Sox lost…and got robbed! She'd
thank us for the update and cuddle up with her kitties again.
On the last Sunday in October, we got a double Boston bonus as we
watched the Patriots win their game in the afternoon and the Red
Sox win another World Series game in the evening. EJ donned her
Patriots shirt and I donned my Red Sox World Series shirt and we
took some fun sister pictures as life-long Boston sports
When the Sox won the Series, Ron and I were cheering in the living
room. We turned around and saw EJ standing in the hallway with a
big grin on her face.
"I presume with all the noise that we won," she said. We all hugged
and did a little victory dance. We stayed up way beyond midnight to
watch the champagne celebration on the field and in the Red Sox
Club House. We had a good laugh at Big Papi on the field
wearing ski goggles to protect himself from the bubbly.
On Saturday, we watched the players and their families ride the
Duck Boats through Boston and its waterways waving at the crowd
along the victory parade route. Then it was time for me to leave
for the airport. EJ and I both knew it was the last time we
would see each other as we hugged good-bye, but there were no tears
as each was trying to be strong for the other.
On Thanksgiving weekend, EJ went into the hospital for the last
time. She lost her battle with cancer on Dec. 9 with her family by
her side. She left behind her husband, two daughters and her two
Life doesn't give you second chances. Sometimes it's serendipity
such as the Red Sox going to the World Series that prompts action
to bring long-distance sisters together in this lifetime and
beyond. May you rest in peace, my dear sister and friend.