I was very hesitant about doing this post because it’s still a sensitive subject for me. If you’ve read my previous post, you know my sister died last year. Losing a sibling is a different type of pain that is hard to express. Okay I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start by giving you some information on my sister; she is older and had autism. (If you don’t know what autism is exactly, click here) Since we were babies, she had a hand in taking care of me and all of her younger siblings, nieces, nephews, and even my daughter. Of course, once I got older, I helped to take care of her as well.
Some more things about her; she’s my third oldest sister. My sister did not like to be touched, and while she wasn’t nonverbal, she just did not like to talk much. Especially to people, she didn’t know. Although she was able to tell you what she wanted or didn’t want. My sister loved food. She loved to eat. There were very few foods that she didn’t like. She also loved music. She had a beautiful singing voice. If you’d watch her while she was in her own world, you would catch her playing music, dancing to it, singing. She would be so happy and it would make you smile too. Seeing how she could be so happy while doing those things made you appreciate the little things.
How We Found Out
We had a get-together, a fish fry, and s’mores night in October 2019. While there, my sister said her stomach was hurting very bad. So my oldest sister said that she was going to take her to the hospital. My sister was there for a few days, and they told us that she had huge fibroids. They had also said to us that it looked like cancer, but they could not be sure. They set a date to remove the fibroids and her uterus. When the date came for her surgery, my whole family took turns rotating out of the hospital, waiting until my sister awoke from surgery. My mom and I sat in the waiting room that night, and it seemed like we were waiting forever.
Once they came out, they asked us to walk with them to the private room. I knew then something was wrong. Well, the doctors told us my sister had cancer. Specifically called leiomyosarcoma (click for more information). Leiomyosarcoma is rare cancer that affects the uterus and can also spread to other areas. The doctors told my mom and me that my sister’s cancer was also in her intestines. The doctor had to cut it out, and they told us that she didn’t have that long to live. So we’re just sitting here looking at them while they’re looking at us, not knowing what else to do.
My mom sat there quietly, just looking straight ahead. I thanked them, and as they left, I asked my mom if she was okay. As soon as I asked it, I thought to myself, “Why would you ask that?” Of course, she’s not okay, but what do you say to a mother who will lose her child? I called my other siblings and my niece to tell them all the news and explained what they had told us.
How We Handled It
In my opinion, there’s no right or wrong way to handle this situation as long as you do something. Which we all tried to make my sister’s time on earth as happy as possible we got together as often as possible. We ever kept her around our kids because she loved babies and small children. Then Covid-19 happened. That was a difficult time trying to keep everyone safe and not be around each other.
We tried to manage it as best as we could. Explaining to my child what was going on was also challenging because she didn’t understand. She would act as if she understood, then the next minute, she would ask more questions. The only thing she was able to grasp was that her Auntie was very sick. I tried my best to be as honest and explain things in the best way possible as many times as she needed me to.
How She Handled It
My sister had her good days and her bad. Good for her meant she could get around, and when things were terrible, she just wasn’t up to doing anything. We tried our best to have family brunches and dinners at restaurants or houses to cherish those moments for birthdays. We would sit together and talk about the old days, and it felt almost normal. Until there was one birthday that she was too sick to attend, my oldest sister said she didn’t think she had very long to be with us.
Here’s the thing when someone tells you that your sibling doesn’t have long to live, it hurts, but when she lives past the time that they say you think there’s hope. Hope everything is going well that she might actually beat cancer. That hope is what I was secretly hanging on to since the moment I heard the diagnosis. So when I heard that she might not have that much longer, it was like a dagger went into my heart.
No More Suffering
After that, my sister didn’t really have too many good days. They gave the option to either stop the chemo and let her pass or keep trying. I knew once those options were told to me which one my mother was going to choose. I knew she didn’t want her daughter dying without knowing that we didn’t try everything. She wouldn’t be able to have that on her conscience. We let my mom decide everything. We figured it was only fair because it was her daughter, after all.
They told us that the chemo wouldn’t get rid of her cancer, but it would just keep her alive for longer. Sometime after that, if you read my post The At Home Covid Experience (click the link to read it), you’d know my boyfriend got Covid, and then shortly after that, I got Covid at the end of October. So any chance of being around my family before my sister passed was not going to happen. My oldest sister decided it was time to get ready for my sister’s funeral arrangements. Talking to people as if my sister had already passed and while I was in quarantine was difficult. However, we made calls checked prices on caskets and got the best price for my sister to have a beautiful service.
Then in what seemed like a blink of an eye, my sister called me and told me she thinks tonight is the night. Her breath was short, and she was barely talking when you said anything to her. With me having Covid, I couldn’t be with her. I told her that I would be there to see her as soon as I wasn’t sick. Then, later on that night, she died, and I could barely take it.
Explaining It To My Daughter
I was thankful that we were able to plan my sister’s funeral after my quarantine. I was grateful for everyone that made it to show their support. Especially my best friend who held me while I cried. Explaining to my daughter what was going on was very tough because she had just turned three. How do you explain to your child that someone that she loved yelling for was no longer here? At the funeral, my child didn’t understand what was going on. She also did not want to see her auntie in her casket, and I tried to respect her wishes, but I wanted her to say her goodbyes at least once.
I tried to tell her that her auntie was in the sky because she had died. I told her she was with God waiting on us to come up there too. Every once in a while, she brings my sister up when she looks in the sky. She says, “Mommy, it’s auntie Londa! She’s in the sky.” It makes me a little sad when she says it, but I know it’s her form of coping, and being that she’s only 4 now, she still does not fully understand. Also, I love how happy it makes her feel when she tries waving at her.
As the holidays come, this year it’s a little hard for me to grasp the fact that my sister has been gone for a year. It’s our second round of holidays without her, and I still look in the living room when I go over to my oldest sister’s house, thinking to myself, “Wow, my sister would be in there with my mom watching tv if she was still alive.” I want you all to cherish your families and the time you have with them. You never know the next time you hug them goodbye if that will be the last time you see them.