The OH’s cousin sister passed away last week, at the age of 33, after a 5-year struggle with cancer. Her tryst with the dreaded disease began 5 years ago, quite unexpectedly, with a visit to a gynecologist, which went on to prove that she had ovarian cancer. The affected ovary was removed and a few cycles of chemotherapy later, she was fit and fine, and even had a baby girl. A year ago, though, the cancer manifested itself in the form of a tumour in her brain, and didn’t go away even after removal of the tumour. It spread to various parts of her body and, one day, she stopped responding to her cancer medication as well. She succumbed last week, unable to fight any longer.
It was heart-breaking to visit her the last few days before her death, when she was in hospital. With an oxygen mask on her face, monitors bleeping everywhere, it was so painful just to see her, even difficult to imagine how much pain she must have been in. Every day, doctors would monitor her and tell us how many days she still had left in this world. They would say that she had 4 or 5 more days, or 48 hours, that she was sinking slowly but surely. It was torture on the family, not to mention on her.
How do you talk to the parents of a 33-year old girl who has only 48 hours left on earth? How do you talk to them after the girl has left them for ever? How do you assuage their feelings of guilt that they are still alive while their little girl is dying? All reassurances sound hollow, all words seem false. Life seems so unfair at the moment.
The funeral was all the more heartbreaking, with shocked friends and ex-colleagues attending. No one could believe that the smiling girl who always minded her own business had come to this. It was sad to see how some people visited just for the sake of gossip, prying into the heart of an already wounded mother and father, wanting to know the littlest of details about the deceased’s life. People!
She was one of the people I got along best with, in the OH’s family. A soft and sweet person, she always had something soothing and affectionate to tell everyone, including me. She ensured that I felt comfortable in my new home after marriage. She never lost that smile on her face, she never let on how much she was hurting, she was that kind of person. I miss her already. I can only guess at the grief in the OH’s heart – he has fond memories of playing silly, childhood games with her, of receiving scoldings and beatings together, movies watched and vacations undertaken together.
Her baby daughter is just 2 years of age, blissfully unaware of all that has happened to her and her mother. She smiles her innocent smile at everyone, and goes to everyone who picks her up. Thankfully, she never was much of a clinger to her mother, needing her all the time – I can’t think of what the child’s situation would have been today had that been the case. Is this what they call ‘a drop of happiness in an ocean of grief’?
Her ashes have been dispersed, and most of the relatives who had come down for the funeral have left. The immediate family is, slowly, limping back to normalcy, that is the level of normalcy that is possible for them now. They have to, for the child’s sake. The OH and I are helping out as best as we can.
I hope she rests in peace now, the peace that eluded her most of her adult life.
Friends, do keep her departed soul in your prayers, too.