Today (In New Zealand) on the 31st of May 1991 you took your last breath and left us devastated.
When ingot up for work that day when I was 18yrs old I didn’t know why I couldn’t go in but I had to and Mum didn’t stop me.
I sat at the table getting ready and she said to me “What’s wrong?”.
I said “I don’t know, I just don’t want to.go to work today”.
I was training to get my Early Childhood Development Certificate and was working at the Kindy that day and I LOVED that place.
I’d make up silly stories for the kids and we’d go hunting for Lolly Monsters (lollies are what we antipodeans call sweets or candy).
I wasn’t expecting the “So don’t” reply because usually we’d get a “go to work and see how you feel response”.
So I called in sick.
Within the hour your tumor hemorrhaged into your brain and you began to fall into the final stages of life but we didn’t know it at the time.
There was just Mum, Emma (your daughter you just gave birth to 7 weeks before) and I home and remember feeling the need to take the baby to you.
It looked like you were sleeping. And when I bundled her in next to you, you turned your turbaned head towards her and smiled and I remember she stared at you for the longest time.
I know now she was maybe taking in the last few moments she’d have with you alive.
Not long after you started convulsing. You kept throwing yourself off the bed and you had a bang on your head so when you did it again I held you down and you were so bloody strong you almost threw me off the bed like something out of the exorcist.
We calmed you down. Poor Mummy didn’t know what to do. I yelled at her to call the doctor and he kept fucking about.
At around 2.30pm you threw yourself off the bed again and took the bedside drawer down with you and I screamed at Mum to calm an ambulance.
She did and as you may frothing at the mouth I cleared your airways and breathed twice but you lunged upwards and lay down and made the noise I know now today as the death rattle. You started pointing your finger at someone just like Siddy used to do.
I put you into the recovery position and I spooned you so tight and rocked and hummed in your ear. I sang More Than Words because it had just come out and it was the first song I could think of.
You stopped rattling and I felt your body relax.
The ambulance arrived and that’s all I remember pretty much apart from people being called and someone trying to reach Dad at work.
Then I’m standing at the hospital waiting to see you and it felt like ages.
I remember Uncle Meynell, Mum, a Priest, Erin and David being there but no-one else.
Then Erin asked “Are they just tidying her up or taking bloods or something?”
And I’ll never forget the look on Uncle Meynells face when he realized we didn’t know you were already gone.
At that moment the curtain was pulled back and there you were. In your pink dressing gown, black turban askew your hair sparse from chemotherapy poking out.
You were sitting up propped up by pillows. You looked asleep.
I remember feeling like I’d let you down Lauri.
You were my big sister. I was your sister. I should of been the one to save you if anyone because I was there. I breathed into you.
I couldn’t understand what I’d done wrong.
At 18 years old I took it personally that I’d JUST passed my Comprehensive First Aid Certificate with flying colours the week before and there you were after I did CPR dead.
I remember running out screaming.
I remember briefly at Karen I’d then buying a packet of cigarettes and smoking them all the way home.
When I walked inside everyone was there. People were worried about where I’d gone.
If been gone for about 6hrs and I remember I went to go into my bedroom to be left alone and Wiremu jumped up and grabbed me.
He wrapped his arms around my shoulders and neck and squeezed me into him and held me so tight and he said “Don’t Debbie, let it out”.
I tried to leave but the more I struggled the tighter he held me. I just stood their letting him hold me. As tears steamed down my face I saw our poor Dad.
Sitting on a stool, glass of whiskey in his hand with the 1000 yard stare on his face.
I felt then it like never before.
I cried so hard as I took Emma from her basket and lay down in bed with her and breathed in your scent that was still on.the blanket she was wrapped in.
I just wanted to love her so hard.
I’ve only seen you three times since you left us all those years ago.
The first time you were standing in a meadow. You said you couldn’t stay long before you were going to look after all the children.
You coming to Dad was my first real encounter with proper medianship.
I’ll never forget the music box playing with the lid down and no batteries and Dad talked to you like you were right there in the bed. He was so calm and not fussed by it all.
I remember thinking how cool it was because you know Dad.
He encouraged it in us but never showed it in himself unless it was overwhelming.
I took that experience he had with you that night one week exactly after your passing and used it as the model with which I would base a lot of my current practices and theories on.
You’ve been gone longer than I knew you sister and yet I remember so much like it was yesterday.
Our family fell apart that day never to be fixed.
7yrs layer Dad joined you and I did CPR on him too.
7yrs after him Mum joined you.
So now your all together.
I’m sorry we fought the week before but your last night alive was incredible.
I sat at the dinner table making everyone laugh as we ate fish and chips.
I said “Dad ask me how my day was Dad ask me about my day Dad ask me how my day was Dad ask me go on ask me Dad”
He said “How was your day?”
I said all exhausted in a comedy don’t know where to begin voice “Oh Dad don’t even ask”
And you, Mum Dad laughed so hard he spat sauce at Emma and it landed on her head.
After everyone went to bed you sat between my legs and I massaged that hump of fluid on your back and we talked until about 11pm.
Little did I know when I hugged you and kissed you good night it would be the last time.
I’m so glad we told each other “love you” “love you too”.
I wish Emma knew you.
She looks so much like you at times it gives me a fright because it’s like looking at my sister in the past.
You know what’s funny Sis is that I never asked why with you.
I always understood if you were with all the children it was more important than being with me.
I now wonder if your children are the same as my children.
The ones who need that Callaghan protection.
I miss you when I think about you.
Your always just right on the surface of my mind.
You don’t talk, but I know your there. I feel you now. It feels like Friday the 31sy May all over again.
I don’t know if anyone is going to see you and Te Whanau at the plot in Bulls.
I’m going to bring my boys when I come home.
It feels like it happened a millennium ago but at the same time it still hurts like it was yesterday.
They say time heals all wounds but when it’s losing someone so young it really just scabs over because when you do go back to that moment in time in the time travel in what we call a memory it hurts like hell again.
But it’s ok. Love is pain, pain is grief.
The more you hurt from their loss the more they were loved.
Facebook is littered with family remembering you today so you know how loved you still are even after 27yrs.
I love you my big sister.
I always have and always will.
P.S my sister got cancer when she was 24. It started as a malignant melanoma. She was one of the first to get skin cancer at a time when people didn’t know tanning beds and the sun weren’t bad.
She had a mole on her leg and had 5 operations on her leg. She had no calf muscle in the end.
At 26 the cancer spread to her back. She found out she was pregnant the same test she found out she had 6 months to live.
She was due on the 31st of May and the induced Emma on the 17th April.
She died on the on the 31st.
I’m always grateful she got that time with Ding Dong (Emma).
This pink dressing gown and black turban is what she died in.