The last four years have felt like the longest four years in existence. I can’t quite remember not having an ill sister. I can’t quite remember not having a tragedy to tell. But I know that there was a time when we would laugh harder than we ever had; and have seething arguments without worry that we wouldn’t have tomorrow to kiss and make up; and dream of the distant future when we would have our own houses and our own families to raise. I know this time existed, I just can’t remember how it felt.
It seemed like such a long period of continuous hospital appointments; the panic that rippled through my family if Rebecca had a headache or couldn’t remember what she had done that day. An endless cycle of praying for health and happiness and that beautiful rush of ecstasy when another scan came back clear. At some point during these years, I was convinced it would be like this forever – always being on the edge of the cliff but never quite falling off. I had this unbreakable sense of hope that we were the miracle, that Rebecca was the miracle. There’s a quote in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ that resonates how it felt to be surviving the lion’s den: “Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope.” We could judge Rebecca’s condition by the statistics and medical predictions, or we could keep those matters aside and live in the glow of hope that she would beat this, even if all signs pointed in the opposite direction. So that’s how we muddled through it, hoping for the best with us all too scared to speak about what would be the worst.
I can’t quite pin down when this hope began to vanish, I can only remember when it was entirely gone. I remember hearing what we all feared the most and greeting it with a sense of acceptance. Not acceptance to lose her but acceptance that this was inevitable. And that was when the grey mask descended over life.
It felt as though she deteriorated overnight. We knew she had been struggling for a bit, but just put it down to operation and chemo side effects. But the last four months of her life, she rapidly declined and I watched as she fell further and further down the cliff side without being able to do anything but watch. Instead of hoping she’d stay, I began hoping she’d no longer suffer, knowing that there was only one way for this to end but praying for it regardless.
Nothing quite prepares you for loss. We knew it was coming for months and spent the last 6 weeks by her hospital bed as she lay unconscious, wishing that she was no longer in pain, but yet nothing quite prepares you for when it happens. Then the grey mask is locked permanently onto your head and you’re not quite sure if you will see the blue in the sky or the green in the grass again. All I’m sure of is that each day we live is a blessing and we should take a break from our jobs and our duties to appreciate that once in a while.
The last four years have felt like the longest four years in existence. But yet, looking back, they were gone in a flash.