I'm sitting in a restaurant in New Mexico with my brother, his kids, my sister, and her kids. This was a rushed trip. My sister in law, Melissa Hayes Bystrak, died on Saturday, March 25, just before 3am.
Here's my post about it all:
We got the news this week that my sister-in-law wasn't doing well; that after a long fight with breast cancer and the pain of numerous reconstructive surgeries, that the cancer was back and had spread to her spine and other areas of her body. While it was many months and years of pain for her, the diagnosis of the spread was new to us on Thursday and by Friday she was hospitalized and heavily sedated. My sister flew out to New Mexico as did Melissa's dad and twin sister; her mom had been with her for some time already. They all arrived in time to be with her say goodbye and just before 3am our time, we got the news that she had passed.
Melissa was only 44 years old and leaves behind my brother, her husband of more than 2 decades, and three amazing kids, Gabe, Gia, and Evan. At this point, my plan is to drive my nieces to New Mexico to support their cousins in this time of immeasurable grief. Their whole world is rocked. Our whole world is rocked. Melissa was a brave warrior in her battle but in the end it was too much for a body to take. We love you so much, Liss. Sleep in peace, Sister.
I drove to New Mexico on Monday with my nieces in my sister's bad-ass car and now we're at a painfully understaffed restaurant in Mesilla, which is a lot like Old Town San Diego. There's a massive Catholic church/basilica here and my brother will be meeting with them to see about putting Melissa's ashes at their columbarium.
We went to White Sands National Park yesterday.
Today we spent the day at White Sands. We laughed, cried, hugged, sat in silence, commiserated, ate lunch, took a million photos, watched the kids sled down sand dunes, admired the beauty around us, all the while deeply feeling Melissa's spirit and memory among us. She would have loved how annoyed the kids were at us for making them take so many pics on so many devices.
Last night, my sister, my brother and I stayed up late talking and crying and planning and plotting and just trying to get a grip on everything that's happened. We'll be leaving tomorrow morning, back to San Diego. I'll have a lot more to say, but I wanted to post an update because it is highly unlikely that I'll be doing listings for this week. I'm sorry. I thought I'd pull them off but this trip hasn't afforded me the several hours it takes to get them done. I'll try tonight but I just don't see it happening. I'll catch up but our waiter is now giving us Billy The Kidd history while we go into 45 minutes of waiting for our food. I'm not complaining, but I did have to go to the station and grab water pitchers to fill our glasses.
I'll be home tomorrow. Late. I love you all.
Stay safe out there.