Friday, October 16, 2009

Remembering Xue..........


Oct 16, 2005, four years ago today.............. This is what I wrote two days after:

In the end, it came down to a dark, dim room,
a clock ticking, two women.
One sitting, waiting, watching, listening.
Nervous. Grieving.

Not sure what she is feeling.

One very still, not here, not there, breast rising, falling, breath in, breath out, breath in......

Their hands linked.
I was listening to the seconds ticking by.
Sitting watching Xue, my neighbor.

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.
I started counting the space between her breaths.
Not intentionally, I just did it to pass the time. I don't know why....
Breath, one two three four five six seven eight.
Breath, one two three four five six seven eight nine ten.
Breath, one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty........Oh my God, she's gone.

It was as simple and quiet as that.
I went to the nurses station to tell them, and started to cry. It was over.


They asked me if anyone would want to be called to come in and see her........
No, there was no one.

I left the ward. The hall was a million miles long. I felt like I was walking in slow motion.

Left the hospital. Made some phone calls in the parking lot and drove home.

Twenty four hours earlier, around 10 PM, during the raging storm, we had been headed to the Emergency room. Xue in terrible pain. Lightning sparking crackling and thunder announcing the arrival of our ambulance.


By 3am Sunday, Xue had a room in the hospital.
Lovely soft pink.

Pain meds were administered and she fell away into a deep blissful peace.

Thank God.

A few people came in to visit and sit with her throughout the day.

I don't know. It has been quite a long journey from beginning to end. One I had no idea I was getting into.

It was only just that Friday when we got the news from her Oncologist that the end of the road had been reached. It was rough. He had tears on his cheeks. Her first words upon hearing it were "I miss Jennifer!!!!" Her last words to the doctor were "thank-you".
Her last words to me were "thank-you Seela".

Tomorrow is her funeral.

Yesterday was visitation at the funeral home. There were many, many people. Lots of Chinese folk. I was surprised. I wondered where they all had been when she was so sick. Some of the crowd I know, was because of the stature of her deceased husband. He was a good man and well liked. I was really surprised at how many people were paying their respects.
Incense was burning, there were magnificent flower arrangements with white ribbons written in Chinese characters. I was given some "lucky" money as I left.

It is strange to look over at her house. The outside light has been on since she died. Her old mum keeps it on. She cannot go to the funeral. She did not go to the visitation. She left the hospital after a short visit because she could not see her daughter die. It is very bad luck. It is not allowed for an older person to see a younger family member dead.

Today, Jennifer, Xue's daughter is eleven years old and lives with a neighbor of mine who has a daughter the same age. She is doing well! Happy and contented. I see her all the time. Xue's two brothers and their families, now live in Canada and Xue's mum lives with them. Xue died of breast cancer that eventually spread to her bones and liver. I am going for my annual mammogram on Monday. Please don't put off getting yours done.

12 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

A beautiful tribute to your friend. You fulfilled a sacred and honourable role in her life and at her death which is a credit to your strength and love.

Jeanne said...

How touching
How is her daughter doing
Love Jeanne

Ronnie said...

Lovely remembrance and reminder.
Thanks.

Tess said...

This speaks volumes as to your charcter and the depth of your friendship. Xue touched you and now you are using Xue to touch others and she would be proud. Thank you for sharing this hurt with us this day, this month. Thank You! Bless you!

Jennifer said...

Lovely, Shelagh.
My heart goes out to you and to Xue's family and friends.

Sara said...

WOW - I was totally touched by this. Your friendship and love showed through this post.

I have had my mammogram this year...and will do so every year.

Hope wonderful memories of your friend will help you.

Tammi said...

FOUR years already since this lovely spirit left for greater places? Hardly seems possible. I am so glad she had people in her life like you who can carry on her memory.
I know it is an emotionally charged day for you. Hugs. xoxo

Kathy said...

Thank you for the touching reminder. It's such a small thing we can do for ourselves and for those who love us. I just got my "Good News" letter from the Breast Imaging Center. I never miss my appt.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your beautiful friend, Shelagh, and a good reminder that we can't put off our mammograms. I get mine every year during my birthday month so I won't forget.

Karen said...

An acquantence of mine, a lovely woman who gave much of herself over the years, passed away last night after a courageous battle with breast cancer. You could have been describing her passing in this post... heartbreaking..and, I made my appointment right after reading it. Thank you..

Gifted Typist said...

Moving, beautiful, unsentimental. A lovely tribute

Sapphire Green said...

Hey, What a beautiful tribute to your friend and neighbour. I go for my mammogram next Monday, a day off work, called a mid-term break...something I don't ever remember having when I was in school. I love the colours in the photo of the rose! Having met your next door neighbours, the prose you shared was all the more relevant. Good luck with your health!!
M.