If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably heard the news.  My sweet sister Katie had a bone marrow transplant a few months ago, and at first it seemed to be working, but then things began to go downhill.  Her leukemia got worse and worse, and just a few weeks ago, they send her home on hospice.

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Katie passed away Thursday morning.

It has been a really, really crappy summer.

Her funeral is today.  In just a couple of hours, in fact.  I guess I should be getting ready instead of doing a blog post.

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Isn’t she so beautiful?

*bursts into tears*

Katie was one of the best people I ever knew.  She was Mom #2 to me.  We grew up in a huge family (11 kids!) and so when my mom needed to run errands, or my parents went on a date night, Katie was in charge.

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When Katie was in charge, those were some of the best hours of my life.  She taught me pretty much everything…stuff like, how to have FUN.

Example:  She showed me how to make a giant fort in the living room out of blankets, stools, books, and (to my mom’s horror) tape.

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We were really pretty fabulous at unfolding all the blankets in the house, piling up the books everywhere, and taping blankets to the walls.

We weren’t really good at the reverse, however.  (My mom loved it when we made blanket forts.)

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Katie also was in charge of the TWINKLE TEAM!

I’m not making this up.  She created a club for us kids called the “Twinkle Team” and when mom and dad were gone, we did fabulous things…like rehearse plays that we’d later perform for our parents.  We’d make backdrops out of refrigerator boxes and everything.

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I remember this one.  The play was “Got To Catch That Villain” (it had a catchy song and everything) and Katie played the bad guy.  She wore a painted mustache.

Katie tried to put on a circus for mom and dad too…with one small problem.  We are the most uncoordinated children you’d ever meet.

(I remember she tried to teach me to stand on her shoulders WITHOUT grabbing her hands and I remember being scared out of my mind.)

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The Twinkle Team Circus, sadly, never got off the ground and I’m still scared of heights to this day.

Katie also would send us on elaborate treasure hunts.  Her clues were HARD.

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I still remember this one…it was “All men die at the diamond’s end.”  We couldn’t figure out where that clue was AT ALL.

Katie gave me a love for old movies.  Growing up I knew all about Danny Kaye, Ronald Coleman, Gregory Peck, Greer Garson, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Maureen O’Hara, and all the rest.  I love old movies still, and would rather watch an old movie than a fancy new one in the theaters.

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(Do you know what movie this is?  It was Katie’s favorite :)

Katie also taught me how to be a TEASE.  She was a huge tease!

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(Mary tried some.)

One day, when Katie was watching my little sister Missy, she bit into an apple…

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(thwumpf)

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Missy didn’t quite know what to do.

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So she decided to go outside and wait for mom to come home.

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About ten minutes later…

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Thanks to Katie, I am now a ginormous tease and am of course doing all I can to pass it on to the next generation.

I’m obsessed with Disneyland, but Katie’s the one who loved it first, and loved it the most.  Her whole life it was her favorite place.  I remember our family’s first trip there…I was seven…we were sooooo excited because Katie had heard and told us all about it.

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This of course was back when they let babies ride Big Thunder Mountain.  You know, back when Disneyland was FUN.

Katie gave me a love for music.  She was the best pianist I’ve ever known…growing up, she’d always be at the piano, practicing for hours a day.  A lot of times really early…like 4 in the morning.

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Katie taught her 6 kids the piano, and sat with them every morning.  Even when she was in the hospital, she’d skype them and be there while they practiced.

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Katie accompanied me a lot when I did flute stuff (I played the flute when I was a kid…a looooong time ago, lol.)

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Katie never, never never complained when I asked her to accompany me on all the recitals and stuff I did.  She was always so willing to help.

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And Katie taught me how to be tough.  She went through five years of cancer, and insisted on trying every kind of chemo that might work.

She learned to crochet while she did chemo.

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She even ran marathons while going through chemo.  She’d wake up early in the morning and go running.

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She’s amazing.

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I’ve always thought runners were kind of…weird.  If I had any free time to spare, it wouldn’t be spent running and going nowhere.  I only run to catch trains and get inside Noodles & Company before it closes.

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But then, last year at Katie’s fundraiser, a whole lot of runners showed up to run her 5K.  It was freezing cold and raining, but they all grabbed the t-shirt and ran the course anyway.   I was really touched by this.

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At that moment, I had an attitude shift.  This attitude shift has been getting me up at 3:45 AM and on my feet to run with my sister, Emily, so I could do 5K’s for other people.

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(I’m actually really terrible at it.)

(But I’m doing it.)

And I always wear my Team Katie t-shirt.  In fact, I haven’t washed my Team Katie t-shirt.  Ever.  I’m trying to preserve the memory, you see.

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I’m pretty sure Katie would approve :)

Here’s a picture I drew a few years ago of Katie and her family, before all the cancer (and her last kiddo!)

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They are the sweetest family I’ve ever known.

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