It might be 16 years too late to properly depict the depressive senses that engulfed my whole being when I lost my only sister Aurora to colon cancer in 2006. Painful flashbacks continue to fill my everyday life at the most inopportune moments that
writing about it might somehow alleviate my grief.
I remember getting that random phone call from her one sunny day in September 2006 and how guilt automatically hit me. It had been a while since I last saw her.
“It’s positive,” she said.
Backed with years of joking around and playing tricks on her since childhood, I asked, “Are you pregnant?” which was not likely since she was in her 50s at the time.
The line went silent.
“I have cancer,” she said in a soft whisper.
My life changed at that very moment. Now all I want to do is to see her and be with her.
My husband and I made the long drive to Dublin, CA to their local Orchard Hardware Store where she worked as a cashier. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I saw Aurora seated by the cash register. This person was not my sister. Sporting a short haircut, she has always been larger than life, had the last say on anything, and commanded respect wherever she went. Instead, I saw this frail, depleted person with weary eyes, and I could have sworn she had lost half the size of her beautiful face.
“I’m sick” was all she could say as she gazed at my prodding eyes. Aurora insisted that I do not tell her only daughter about her illness which added to the list
of things that would eventually weigh on my shoulders.
“She’s just like you. She will not take it well,” she said.
I helped take her to her first oncology appointment. I remember the doctor describing the six-inch lesion found on her colon that unfortunately metastasized to her other organs. The first thing my sister asked was “How long is the treatment? Weeks? Because I need to go back to work soon.”
The doctor looked at me and turned to her saying “It will take more than that.”
When the doctor stepped out of the room for a bit, Aurora faced me with her huge eyes.
“Why me? Why did I have to get the cancer?”
I did not know what to say.
What followed were weeks of agonizing pain, 911 calls, and accidental falls. I made the long drive not only to be with my sister but to console my niece who by this time
was informed of her sickness.
Luckily, we were able to celebrate her birthday in October of that year and that brought happiness to Aurora’s heart. Most of the family members and close friends were there. We all held hands and each said a prayer for her healing. It broke my heart when it was her turn to pray and she cried pleading to the Lord to spare her from death.
One thing I will never forget was when she related a dream she had. She said she was
at my own daughter’s high school graduation but it was too far away, she could hardly see her. “It’s like I am looking down below from above, and I wondered how that is possible,” she added.
The dream made more sense days after she passed.
Reality quickly set in when, during her last hospital stay, the doctor pulled me and my husband aside and discussed her plan of discharge. He said there was really nothing else they could do for her, and it was best she went back home and under hospice care.
It was difficult to relay this information to Aurora. I remember her head was bowed and her shoulder slumped with a forced smile on her lips. I knew what she was thinking. That as long as she was in the hospital getting treatment, there was the possibility of recovery.
She was back in the hospital in no time after she was discharged. I held her hand as she lay on the hospital bed during her last moments. The nurses were in and out of the room offering comfort to me and asking if I needed anything.
All I needed was my sister back.
At this time she was already unconscious and on a morphine drip. It took a while before each of the family members arrived at the hospital having to drive from
far away. We all stayed and surrounded her bed exchanging stories of happy times with Aurora, at times giggling at funny moments. Instead of her infectious laughter that we always heard at times like this, the machines she was hooked up to made loud noises. That is when we were convinced she still heard us.
I never did let go of her hand until she passed and took her last breath.
I still miss Aurora to this day. I remember her saying “nothing will ever get in the way of anything you want to achieve.” Like when I was trying to learn how to swim as a child, she always told me “that’s just water—it won’t kill you.” Of course, I know now that wasn’t true and so I never did learn. But don’t worry dear sister, I get what you are saying.
Rest in peace.