These past four weeks of my life have been brutal. Not only did I lose a wonderful mother-in-law, Mona Spencer Biskamp, but unexpectedly my sister-in-law died of cardiac arrest. Both these women will continue to be an inspiration to my life’s story and have influenced my writing.
Mona was a successful real estate mogul who encouraged me to pursue my dreams. She called me a genius without rolling her eyes or sighing ; she meant it. I adored and admired her; she helped me gain self-confidence to fight the good fight and to abandon my fears of failing. Failing is not the worst thing one can do, but giving up is.
Our beautiful Leslie dedicated her time to help any living creature in need. She volunteered to save exotic animals at In-Sync Exotics and worked for the Heard Wildlife Museum. It’s uncertain whether her death was linked to her condition: Leslie had developed a rare lung disease while caring for her exotic birds (hypersensitivity pneumonitis, or bird fancier’s lung). Although her cardiac arrest may have be tied to this condition, I feel others should be made aware of the risks and protect themselves and their children while cleaning the cages of their feathered pets.
Leslie was stunningly beautiful inside and out, and she lived life large. She could wow at a black-tie gala or roll up her sleeves and nurse a wounded mountain lion back to health . She was an inspiration to all who knew her. I attended her memorial recently and did my best to honor her with a short speech I wrote. I swallowed the words, cried, and spoke with a shaky voice, but all the while, a beautiful white egret soared in the blue sky by our overlook. It was a reminder that Leslie’s love of people and animals meant more than anything I might say. When her service neared its end, I stood in front of the window and stared at the soaring birds and the trees swaying in the breeze. I closed my eyes and thanked Leslie and Mona for all they taught me. Life may be painful, but it is well worth the risks.
Leslie encouraged me to write, just as she had inspired me by her approach to life: Give without expecting anything in return. Leslie and my brother-in-law Brett Biskamp raised two incredible children. Connor is studying to be a doctor, and Madeline has dedicated her life to assisting individuals with eating disorders. Like their parents, they are working to make others’ lives better.
Losing these two incredible woman in such a short time is taking a hard toll on me. I realize that, at some point, I must return to my world of denial because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to function at all. I think we all must do this to survive, for if we truly knew how fragile life is, we would probably stop typing and crawl under our desks to wait for the blast of bright light.