Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. Memories of her still haunt me; that feeling of powerlessness still kills me. As we move closer to her first death anniversary, my memories come back in waves to haunt me again. I go through the same experience I went through last
Again and Again…
Sad as it may be, I never did spend much time with her. She had a foreign employment. I can just count the number of times she came home to us, in my hand: four.
I wish I could just wake up from this as if it were a bad dream. Each time I wake up, I realize the harsh reality; it’s not a bad dream; I truly lost the person I loved the most.
She was one the people I could love unconditionally. She was bright, charming and funny. I especially loved her fake laugh… She used to laugh at my every joke; no matter how poor and bad the joke truly was. Everyone could hear her laugh. It really was a contagious laughter.
Sad as it may be, I never did spend much time with her. She had a foreign employment. I can just count the number of times she came home to us, in my hand: four. Out of the twenty years of my life, I only met her four times.
Nonetheless, when we lost her it didn’t matter, the pain was excruciating. I hate that the part of me didn’t realize that she could be gone soon. I didn’t realize it until it was very late.
I passed through an array of emotion. My mind could not have comprehended the pain she was going through. Yet I decided to be supportive, this was the time she needed me the most.
I still remember how it all began.
The Spring season was just starting… Cold winter winds were long gone, replaced by a cool breeze. I came back from college. Everything seemed normal in the house, except that lingering feeling that something was wrong.
Mom seemed kind of odd. Ticked off by every little thing, irritated and angry.
“What’s wrong?”, I asked.
“Nothing”, She replied
“I know something is wrong. Why are you in such a bad mood?”
“You do not order me around! You are not grown enough that I should explain you every little detail that goes around me!”
I stopped asking her. I knew her outburst had an underlying reason. Perhaps I will know more about it soon; maybe tomorrow.
Hearing that someone you love will be gone forever. My sadness grew into anger, especially toward my parents for keeping me in the dark.
A week later I heard my aunt was coming back from Bahrain. It was really out of the blue. She wasn’t supposed to be back for another two years… Yet, I didn’t mind it a bit. I thought she missed us far too much to wait another two years. In any case, I was delighted.
“She is not well”
“What do you mean?”, I inquired.
“Your aunt is not well”, Mom repeated, “That’s why she is coming back.”
I passed through an array of emotion. My mind could not have comprehended the pain she was going through. Yet I decided to be supportive, this was the time she needed me the most. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.
I grew up in a delusion that it was curable. My father didn’t tell me about it until the very end. She was here with us for a month. Each morning she would wake up, go to the hospital for the treatment and return. In each return, she would be a different person. You could sense the sadness in her eyes. Little by little the treatment made a shell of her formal self. For her, the nights grew longer, and her once vibrant energy slowly withered away. I still remember her standing by the window early morning, just staring. She couldn’t sleep, she couldn’t eat, she couldn’t be herself anymore.
Whenever I saw her, she just laid on her bed. At the time, I still did not grasp the seriousness of the situation. For me, the disease was curable. I thought after series of treatments she would be her jolly self again. We would look back on this day and laugh… unfortunately, that day will never come.
You could sense the sadness in her eyes. Little by little the treatment made a shell of her formal self.
The treatments had made her weak. She couldn’t handle to go on anymore. You could see her fading away slowly. But she was on the path of healing, at least that what we said when she complained about the pain.
On a morning no different from another, she goes for her treatment. She didn’t return that day. Aunt Sindhu was affected by jaundice. Yes, a simple disease like jaundice should not have affected her treatment. But it was all downhill from there. We couldn’t treat her because she was at a vulnerable stage.
After few days, of not having been to see her, I decided to visit her. I slowly climbed the ladder of the hospital. I turned right to the corridor that leads me to her room. Then I saw her. Thin to the bone and frail, she wasn’t my jolly aunt anymore. It broke my heart to see her like this. Now I couldn’t help even if I wanted to… I still was optimistic, we felt she would come out of this strong and healthy.
I visited her twice in the hospital. I didn’t want to remember her like that. I was there to care for her. Yet, each passing hour, being in excruciating pain, she would ask me to go and eat. She tried to offer me the same juice people had brought for her.
“Here, drink this”, she said, “It’s hot right now. You need to save your energy.”
I wanted my aunt Sindhu to come out of this, so I decided to pray. I don’t often believe in God, but at that moment I wanted to.
I couldn’t come up with a reply. At that moment, I realized how much I loved her. I wouldn’t want to spend rest of my life without my aunt Sindhu. To this day, whenever I remember her instructing me to drink the juice that was meant for her, tears swell up. That same night, I planned mentally to stay with her at the hospital on the weekend. After a half, an hour drive, father and I returned home. We quickly made ourselves dinner, sat together with my younger brother. My father broke the silence.
“Try to visit your aunt as often as you can”, he said.
“Why?”, I asked in confusion
“She doesn’t have much time”, he replied.
“What do you mean? She only has an early phase of cancer. She will be okay after the treatment, right?”, I asked again.
“She has stage four of Gallbladder Cancer”
The entire world around me collapsed. My delusion of seeing her healthy once again shattered into million pieces.
How do you react to something like this? Hearing that someone you love will be gone forever. My sadness grew into anger, especially toward my parents for keeping me in the dark. But they were not at fault. I understood why they did it. I remembered all those times I had an opportunity spend time with her but didn’t. I regretted all those wasted hours which I could’ve spent with her. Made her time easier, more cheerful.
“There’s always tomorrow”
What if her cancer was diagnosed early? What if we didn’t lose her? There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t ask myself that question. I lost my Sindhu, you shouldn’t lose yours.
Despite those harsh news, I desperately wanted to be optimistic. I wanted my aunt Sindhu to come out of this, so I decided to pray. I don’t often believe in God, but at that moment I wanted to.
Each moment I prayed to God saying, “Whatever happens, please make her well. She has a lot to see. I want to care for her when she grows old. I want to be there through thick and thin. The moment she comes out of this, I will not leave her side. Please make her alright.
It felt good like a burden being lifted. My heart was light, I felt God would help her through this. Next morning, I had to attend my classes. It was like any normal day. This day remains fresh in my mind. My phone rang around noon. I missed few calls from my brother. Unknown what it was about, I gave him a call.
“Aunt Sindhu’s condition is critical. You have to get to the hospital fast.”, he said.
The part of me that hoped died that day. I couldn’t bring my body to move or my brain to form a sentence. I abruptly ended the call. Memories of her fake laugh came pouring in, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know how.
My phone rang again. It was my father.
I don’t expect anyone to know how it feels to lose someone that early. I know, and it hurt like thousand knives piercing me all at once. You just want to wake up from this nightmare only to realize that it’s a new reality that you must live in.
Sindhu could’ve lived… If only she went to a doctor early rather than depending on the painkiller. She never wanted to be a burden on us, if only she implied she wasn’t feeling that well. There was nothing in the world I would’ve done for that woman. Each time I remember her face, I think what I could give to hear her laugh once again.
What if… What if Sindhu went to regular screenings? What if her cancer was diagnosed early? What if we didn’t lose her? There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t ask myself that question. I lost my Sindhu, you shouldn’t lose yours. Get your loved one for regular screenings! Do what you can to prevent such disaster. I urge anyone who reads this to make a habit for regular checkups.
PS: I love you, Sindhu. I terribly miss you.
– Jubindra K.C.