I hit the jackpot when it comes to my mother in law and sister in law. Our relationship has been so easy since the very beginning. When we first met, Justin’s parents were in the midst of a divorce. It was obviously a stressful time for everyone. But my parents had divorced when I was a little girl and it meant that our families just fit together so easily. My mom, Dave and I started to spend every holiday with Justin, Vikki and Shannin. Justin and I would come in from Chicago and Vikki and Shannin would drive down to NY from Connecticut. Easy Peasy as they say.
We have had some crazy times. Vikki bought me a bottle of goldschlagger for my first Christmas as her daughter in law. I suppose she didn’t think Shannin and I would drink it all on Christmas night. But we did and i can assure you that we will not do it again. We have spent New Years together in NYC, Connecticut and even Richmond. Each one giving us a new set of memories.
Now we have six children between us. Once again they get along famously. The age differences and personalities create a perfect balance and the next generation has begun its life together seamlessly.
I have now known Shannin since she was 17 – for more than half her life. From high school graduation to college graduation, from dating really awful people to meeting and marrying Kevin her fabulous husband. In between that we have both suffered through all kinds of family drama. We have supported each other virtually while we were pregnant and while we have raised our kids. We both lost our dads recently and although some of the circumstances were different we experienced it together. I cannot imagine having a sister that I would be any closer to. As far as I am concerned, Shannin is my flesh and blood.
And now I have the privilege to watch Shannin live through her greatest challenge but also her greatest blessing. Shannin’s son, my nephew, was born with cystic fibrosis. Shannin spends hours each day giving Patrick treatments. She monitors every bite of food he consumes and tirelessly tries to get him to eat more. Every night after a days of worth of treatments she sterilizes everything and prepares to do it all again the next day. I am amazed at what she does but also amazed at her attitude. I am sure that there are moms that would stay at home and never venture out because it would make everything feel too overwhelming. And then there are probably some that would skip treatments or some of the meds in order to do something fun. Shannin does it all. She has a part time job, mothers another child beautifully, and is a fabulous wife/daughter/friend. I know the decision is easy for her – she is simply doing all that she can do to ensure that Patrick will have a long and healthy life. And as I watch Shannin go through this next stage of her life my heart feels like it could burst for her. I am so proud to call her my sister in law. That teenager I met at Notre Dame on a warm blustery day in May has grown so much and just seems to get better and better with everyday.