Monday, August 1, 2011

How Quickly Life Changes

Life changed completely and unexpectedly in my family on July 7, 2011. My 40-year-old sister-in-law, Irene, died suddenly. It is believed she suffered a massive heart attack. She was my brother's widow. My brother was killed ten years ago in a motorcycle crash, four days before their fifth wedding anniversary. 
Their ten-year-old son is now an orphan. I hope to become his legal guardian, as I've been close with him since he was born, and began watching him on Saturdays when he was three months old when his mom returned to work. 

After my brother's death, I proposed the following to Irene, the single parent of a five-month-old boy: that I take him at least once a month, overnight, to give her a break; and to allow him to grow up knowing the love of his father's family. This way, if she ever needed to travel, attend an event, etc., she would always have a place for her son to stay ~ somewhere he'd already be familiar with; a place she could count on as a safe, loving environment. 

We had this arrangement for the past ten years. Hours before she died, she wrote me an e-mail asking for certain dates in July and August for my nephew to sleepover. This has been his second home his entire life. 

It's as if I was preparing for this role for ten years and didn't know it. 

We hope and pray that all goes well and my nephew will become a permanent member of our immediate family. He's been growing up with my two children more as siblings than cousins. We love him dearly. 

When a tragedy like this strikes ~ it serves as a reminder to review how prepared you and/or your family members are, regarding your wishes. Are wills completed, or do they need updating? Does someone in your family know your wishes? Do they know whom your attorney is, whom to contact, where important documents are, etc? A sudden, unexpected tragedy is difficult enough to deal with; but preparations done in advance certainly helps those left behind. 

Do the right thing ~ make sure your family knows your wishes; have a will made; maintain of list of where important documents are kept; keep a list of those to contact in case tragedy strikes ~ which I pray never does ~ but at least you'll have peace of mind knowing you've made your wishes known and have eased the burden on your loved ones. 


  1. I feel so bad for the boy. Thank God he has folks like yourself to look after him.

  2. Wow this is a touching story. He and your family are in my prayers. I wish you the best of luck during these times.

  3. All my best wishes for your nephew, hoping he will be allowed to stay in your home!

  4. Hi Charles,
    Daniel's a survivor, already at age 10. We love him so much!

    Hi Jay1212,
    Thanks for your prayers and good wishes. We remain hopeful!

    Hi Dorte,
    Thanks for your kind support, it means so much. We keep saying our prayers that he will come to live with us very soon!

  5. Best hopes, Kathleen. Daniel is so blessed to have you in his life. Will be having a good thought for you during the coming weeks.

  6. Thanks, Richard, it means a lot. I appreciate your kind words and positive thoughts!

  7. You are a very special person, thank goodness you offered that arrangement ten years ago. I am sorry for your loss.

  8. Thanks, Nancy ! that's so kind of you to say. The past ten years have meant a lot to me and my nephew. My mother also established a special bond with him. We hope that we will be able to continue the close relationship we have with this special little boy who has gone through so much.