probably something we all wish we had when we’re enjoying our lives, more time. even though time is such a strange concept. un-real because we made it up. there is no such thing as a minute. an hour. and while i think we don’t really use time in the right way, we sure as hell scatter it all over the place.

only time will tell. give it time. time is money. time flies. time heals all wounds. etc. etc.

when Barbara was dying, she was given a very specific time frame. a few days. a week tops. or to quote her oncologist. “maybe a week.” not something i could comprehend at the time. i remember hearing the words from my mother’s mouth but somehow they didn’t register in my brain. how could they? i kept asking the palliative nurses every day, do you think she will die today? do you think, today’s the day? not that i wanted her to die. i wanted it to be done. does that make sense? i wanted her suffering to be done. little did i know that when hers was finished, ours would begin.

my dad was the last of us to arrive before the end. just the way it worked out. i was there maybe a day or two and was still getting the hang of everything. of seeing my sister in a hospital bed. of seeing her half-awake, half-asleep. of seeing her half-smile. of seeing her half-paralised.

half-dead is the word i should be using. i don’t want to though.

she wasn’t given any food, just heavy sedation drugs to keep her calm and out of pain. to help ease her into her never-ending sleep. i found it strange and cruel. to let her starve to death. but that wasn’t really the case, they said. the brain tumour would eventually reach her spine and that would kill her. not starvation. the nurses did say that we could give her water, ice-cream, whatever liquid that she liked. one nurse said, give her champagne! why not. we gave her beer. champagne seemed just a little too festive for such a gloomy situation.

the thing is, she couldn’t really drink out of a glass anymore. a straw was useless too. so they suggested a sponge on a stick which is what we tried. but some reflex forced her jaw to cramp up and her teeth bit into the sponge which then proceeded to choke her. panic ensued. i had one thought in my mind, she can’t die like this before dad gets to see her. then another thought, she’s dying of cancer and now she’s gonna choke to death on a fucking sponge? somehow, honestly, i can’t tell you how, but somehow i got that little piece out of her mouth.

needless to say, we didn’t use the damn sponges anymore. in case you need to know, a small spoon did the trick.

but how weird is that? i wanted her to have more time. more time to have dad see her. and definitely not to have a horrible death like a death by choking.

it’s a horrible image to have. one of your younger sister choking on a piece of sponge.

anyway. a week went by and Barbara was still alive. still, i kept asking the nurses. is today the day? in hindsight it sounds like such an abominable thing to do. but it seemed like the only humane thing to be wondering about. when will she finally be saved? when will her suffering end? those were the actual questions i had.

trust me, all i want in the world is more time with my sister. to have more time to talk, to laugh, to cry, to hang out. knowing that it will never happen again, that none of it will ever happen again, breaks my heart all over again.

i oftentimes think about Barbara’s timing too. however sad this situation was, it had to happen at some point and i am incredibly grateful that it happened at a time when we were all available and able to travel. remember, we lived on two different continents. fate bestowed upon her the perfect timing of death. i didn’t have any performances, my parents had already retired, my brother could take the time off. covid was still a year and a half in the future. there were no travel restrictions. no wars in our parts of the world. so in a sense, there could not have been a better time for her to die.

yeah. that thought is as un-comforting as it sounds.

apart from the sponge situation, i have been thinking more about the good times that we had together even though there is always a little pang of pain, knowing that they are all in the past. so i will be writing more about those times too in the future because they are a part of who i have become, of who i am.

and honestly, if i had to live my life over again, and if i had a choice of having no Barbara as a sister or having her as a sister for a limited amount of time, i would always choose the latter. a life without Barbara would be no life at all. no life worth my time anyhow.