When you receive a phone call at 7am on a Friday morning you know that it is not going to be good news. Yesterday (Friday) I got that call and yes it was the worst news. My sister had died in the UK. It was unexpected, I hadn't known that she was ill. In fact she had been admitted to hospital with a chest infection but then they had found the cancer. The secondary in her liver and the primary in her oesophagus. They didn't give her a time limit so she persuaded the hospital to let her go home. Once home, her son Bryn gave her what she wanted which was a glass of sherry and a cigarette. He said she had a smile that filled her face.
Then on Sunday she started to fade and when she fell asleep on the Monday she never woke up again. She died, in peace, on Tuesday night with her family around. I think she decided that enough was enough and she certainly didn't want to go back to hospital. She has always been incredibly independent and strong-willed. But I wasn't there and I haven't seen her for over twenty years, only talking on the phone and letters. My sister was twenty years older than me and had migrated to Canada from the UK when I was only three. But when she returned home after her marriage break up I was seventeen and I got to know and love her for the three years before I left for Australia. Every holiday we would catch up and she became a best friend, who shared my history.
But now she's gone and I can't go there as it's so far and soooo expensive, and she's not there anyway. Distance sucks.
I carried on with my day as planned and took two friends to meet another and have lunch together, and it helped. When death occurs on the other side of the world there is nothing that you can do, except carry on. My friends were unaware of the phone call, I couldn't talk about it at that stage.
But then I had to call my daughters and tell them last night. That was hard, very hard.
Today the son of one of my daughters is now waiting to go into surgery to have his appendix removed. And I'm not there. It was also unexpected.