If you know me, then you know how much I love my sister and love to annoy her. You know how much she means to not just me, but my parents as well. She inspires us and those around her on a daily basis and has a journey that is filled with many memories, one that I am proud to share today.
About 21 years ago, our family was dealt a card that would change so many things, while strengthening our bond.
In 1997, my older sister, Payal (aka Benni), was diagnosed with kidney failure.
At only 15 years old, she was a cheerleader & a dancer, she was enjoying every moment of her life, even bothering me. When I think of Benni in this time of both our lives, I picture a spunky, athletic, wise and curly-haired girl. She was admired by all and had an aura about her that was contagious.
To say this was unexpected would be an understatement.
We took this diagnosis in strides. Neither of my parents was a match and I was too young for donating and she had to begin dialysis. Dialysis was a difficult and at times, tedious process. It was a long hard year for her and our family. We celebrated birthdays, milestones and tears in the hospital.
Then, a dear family friend was found to be a match for Benni, and the transplant was completed.
I’ll never forget the moment of her diagnosis or the joy of her successful transplant, or even the salt-free food we all had to eat!
The days, even years after her transplant called for patience, change and acceptance from all of us. It was in these moments, our strength as a family was solidified. Mom was a quiet yet strong force of comfort to Benni. She never left her side. Dad was our protector, shielding our family with strength and positivity. Our family was constantly at our side.
Being that I was only 7/8, this time along with the next few years would be a blur. I remember not being able to see my sister very often, but playing in the children’s room at the hospital. I recall not seeing my parents very often, but being treated to french fries and ice cream by whomever I staying with. I vividly remember the hospital waiting room always being filled with family and our closest friends.
Today, 20 years to the date, Benni is living her healthiest and happiest life. She never allowed this part of her life to be a hindrance.
She graduated high school at the top of her class. She studied abroad. She went on to one of the best pharmacy programs in the nation. And she’s done so much more.
I am incredibly proud to call her my sister and have her watch over me the way she does.
Benni, Happy 20 Years to you & your kidney beans! Here’s to 20 more! ♥