This past Tuesday, my sister-in-law Sheila died. It was a surprise, in that this time last week, she was still alive. But apparently, when she was leaving her office on Friday to go to her car, she fell in the parking lot and knocked herself out. Turns out she had thrown a clot from DVT in her leg. They sent her home Sunday, she fell in the house again, and was found by a friend on the bathroom floor, unconscious but with a pulse. The doctors at the hospital said it was a massive brain bleed, and they were just keeping her comfortable. She died early in the morning on Tuesday.
Last summer, Sheila's husband Dave died from congestive heart failure and cirrhosis of the liver. He was four years younger than she was. From all accounts, she just gave up and didn't even try to move on, other than going to work every day.
About ten years ago, Sheila was asked to be the matron of honor in her younger sister's wedding. She and Dave embarked on a mission to get into shape. They showed up, both the picture of health and fitness, and apparently were able to keep up with that for years.
Until about two years ago, when Dave was laid off from his high-level publishing job. From what I can tell, it sounds as if he became broken. He stopped caring about taking care of himself, or making any effort to be active. It sounds as if at some point Sheila thought that if he was giving up, she might as well give up too. My husband's younger sister told us this week that Sheila was huge - losing 60-75 pounds once Dave died, and it didn't make much of a difference. But she also said that Dave was incredibly obese when he died.
I was sad to hear this, not just because I loved both of them dearly, but because they had been able to remake themselves into healthy and fit people for several years. Unfortunately, they could not get the incentive to keep going when times got tough.
So now they are both gone, and there is a huge void in our family.
But as strange as it sounds for me to say this, there is a bright side. My husband has decided that he needs to get back to his activity and healthier eating. He told me that he sees their lives in the past couple of years as a cautionary tale. He is now recommitted to a healthy life, and has been inspired to get moving and paying more attention to his health. This is a relief to me, as he had become pretty lazy in the past 8 months or so, and I was worried.
In the end, then, the deaths of Dave and Sheila made a point in his life that will likely stick. I just really wish that the lesson didn't need to be learned this way.
Rest in peace, Dave and Sheila. We love you, and will miss you. Here's hoping that you are both happy and at rest now.