We realized while working out the details that we have actually known each other for a fairly long time as we both shared a writing prize on Helium, a now defunct writing site! On-line writing is a small world, no matter where you may live!
Robin graciously agreed to write this article detailing a loss that had a profound effect of him and his family.
For much of her last two years, she was incarcerated in the Royal Marsden Hospital in Surrey, England, while she fought a battle she couldn’t win. I remember talking to her through the glass fronted wall of a hermetically sealed room that was entered only by doctors who wore white masks.
I remember my parents’ hands pressed against the glass and I remember my mother’s red eyes, explaining that Caroline would not be coming back to Grandma’s with us.
My sister was, in fact, very sick. She had developed a nasty form of leukemia which, in those days, usually meant a death sentence. Doctors were unsure how to treat the disease, so they tried a lot of different strategies, none of which were pleasant. My sister received chemotherapy that made her look fat in school photos, and blood transfusions, radiotherapy and a couple of bone marrow treatments.
Not many pictures . . .
These days, with digital cameras that shoot photos and movies, we have the chance to document every mundane moment of our lives, but it didn’t use to be like that. My own daughter has more pictures on her Facebook wall than were ever taken of my sister. Each passing glimpse of that brief life is therefore a treasure, a record of precious months rather than moments.
Memories . . . or imagination?
Sometimes, I get flashes of memory, but I am never sure if they are from my imagination or from what once was true. In the end, though, it doesn’t really matter if these memories are real -- they are better ones.
Some later thoughts . . .
I didn't cry when Caroline died (neither did my Dad). There's another article I could write about the delayed grief we both experienced, and how we finally let it go.
But, I do wonder if some of my wildness as a teenager can be attributed to my sense of being just temporarily spared.
My parents got busy to escape their grief. There were too many uncomfortable memories in familiar people and places, so within 18 months we had emigrated from England to New Zealand.