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Letter 23: Life Lessons

 

Dear Annie,

 

As your big sister, I still regret not thinking about your birth control as a

potential reason why you weren’t feeling well when we talked in the car on our

trip to Ohio two months before you died.  I also wish I would have pressed you

more when I sensed that you didn’t feel right the night before you died.  Your

death and how you lived your life compelled me to learn as much as I could

about Lyme disease, and how to get rid of it and the terrible effect it was having on my life.  Without you, I would still be exhausted and letting the infections slowly eat away at my body.

I also now know that I have the gene defect called MTHFR.  I was tested by an excellent doctor after your death.  I now know that I can never use hormonal birth control and Elise can never take it either.  We both tested positive for the gene defect.  I hope to be able to help educate others more about the risks of hormonal birth control and other medicines that deplete B vitamins.  This is dangerous for all people, but especially those with this gene defect.

I know I can help others – another very important life lesson you taught me.  I still vividly remember the picture of you taking care of all of the other patients on your hospital floor the night of your neck surgery.  You should have been in bed yourself, but you saw other, older patients, and you were compelled to help them.  This next phase of my life will be dedicated to helping others, like you did that night in the hospital.  The women’s advocacy work you did to help other women was also so impressive, especially given that you were not able to fully work through your own demons from earlier in your life.

You taught me to live my dreams, you showed me how to be present through your life and your actions, and how to help others.  I will never feel grateful for your death -- it was senseless and completely preventable-- but I am deeply grateful for your life.  I am totally convinced you are still helping others looking down on us in this life.

Love,

Maryellen