Goodbye Dearest Sister

It is the second month of the year 2021 and instead of the usual new year post, this is a post to record the unsettling days in 2020 and 2021 (so far) for me now that I have the luxury of time to pen this down while I get some time to unveil the carefully hid emotions.

The world was fighting against covid-19 in 2020 and I am sure everyone has their own struggles throughout this time. Everyone secretly enjoying the perks of having more flexibility when organisations are shifting to work from home and trying to juggle work and life at the same time.

Working from home has gotten me into the new norm of range of movement within our homely apartment on daily basis. A nice switch of having B as my lunch mate, don’t get me wrong I love having lunch with my colleagues too and that’s one of the reasons I love going to the office. Both of us gotten into the routine without any trouble because we have one less thing to worry of – kids! I will eat my own words when I have kids in the future.

A couple weeks into our new routine, B’s family were hit with a bad news. His eldest sister, my eldest sister in law was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. She delivered the news to us over a Whatsapp call. Nobody was prepared for this, everyone reacted to the news differently. Took us a few sleepless nights and couple days to let the news sink in. We kept ourselves busy with work and life during the day. We talked before we go to bed until one of us fell asleep and the other was left with some quiet moments before drifting into dream.

On the other hand, my eldest sister in law were so brave that she made a few visits to a few doctors to find out different opinions, deciding the doctor responsible for her treatments and those that follows with her husband. We were both awed with her determination and courage. I can only imagine how much courage she has mustered up to deal with that.

We called her more often, just to know how she was doing with her treatment and hopefully getting her off her mind for a bit by showing what a hoarder we both are and showing our plant babies. It’s more comforting for us after a couple calls knowing she was doing well and following through all her treatment. Her optimism was the reasons we are feeling more settled.

A good few months we got wonderful news from her saying she was doing well with the treatments. It was reassuring to us she will get through this and get better. I vividly recall on one of the calls after months of reassuring news, she came back with a bad news that her cancer marker went up and she couldn’t go under the knife anytime soon. We could feel that she was hit by it but she picked herself up swiftly.

She continued her treatment as recommended by the doctor which was best she can do at that point of the time to prevent the spread. She was really positive and carry on with her daily life. On the good days she would go for a hike in the nearby park and getting some Qi Gong done. On the bad days she would still take a walk in the residential area. As for her treatment outcomes, the trends were up and down during those months. Our spirit went up and down according to the news she delivered to us. It was really hard to swallow for us and it must be even tougher for her.

Came the end of the year 2020 and we were delighted the awful year of 2020 was coming to an end. A new year would meant greater happenings and we might see families in Malaysia and Singapore sooner.

On the second day of the new year, my sister in law broke the devastating news – she has weeks to live. She broke down and couldn’t take any of our calls. She needed some time for herself. None of us were prepared for this, B and I fell into the fear of the worst and sleepless nights. We made up our mind in a couple days that we will travel to be with her and wanted to be with her whatever it takes.

The pandemic has caused so much unnecessary inconvenience. We have to get endless approvals to travel from each and every countries we will come across on our way to Singapore. The constant fear and pressure we couldn’t make it in time. All in all we started our journey 2 weeks after we received the news, had to make extra stop at Malaysia for B to renew his less than 6 months validity passport. Renewing passport was also a challenge itself, who knows our days could be so hard.

The moment we started our journey, my sister in law condition were deteriorating. She couldn’t eat well, she vomited due to some blockage in her intestines and she was in pain. She was admitted into the hospitals and was on palliative care while waiting for her drugs to wear off before she can go under the knife to sort out her intestines problem. Broke our hearts watching her being so ill.

Almost at the same time, doctor were telling the family her days are numbered and she was deteriorating fast. Just a week before our planned date to depart to Singapore, we received the most feared news. We couldn’t make it in time to be with her, we didn’t get the chance to enjoy an afternoon tea we like to have with her.

B and I felt like we got struck by a lightning and were trying to take in the news when his parents video called us from her death bed. The emotions came in waves for me and all of us broke down, B fell into the grief pit. Took me a good 30mins to pick myself up, informed B’s colleague of the news, follow through the planned customer meetings and set up a call with my manager to inform her.

Travel plan changed by hour for us in the week, we can’t decide if we would like to travel if we won’t be able to send her off. We got some help to expedite our travel while B got a few hours permission each day to attend the wake and cortege during the quarantine. We decided to make the trip to Singapore.

I am glad we made this trip albeit arduous, B getting the chance to be with her in her final journey and sending her off. It breaks my heart seeing everyone so upset and yet I couldn’t be of any help.

Her ashes collection was my breaking point, all the emotions that was so well bottled came rushing to me and that was when I let myself grief over the loss. It’s so true a family member battling cancer does affect everyone in the family and left a scar in everyone heart.

I may not know you for long, we have gotten so close that we would share our new found skin care we like, gotten into scrapbooking and journalling together, partner in crime in hoarding all the craft materials and not to forget asking each other out for late night shopping in Hokkaido. You have been so generous that you would share your washi tape stash with me, sending mini cards on occasions and not forgetting us when you see Doraemon in the street (B’s favourite). You have been so courageous in this battle fighting till your last breath. You may have lose the battle but you stayed in our heart and mind for forever. You are the sister that I wish for not by blood but by chance and luck, can’t ask for more.

We will miss you my dearest sister!