It is the Monday before Christmas, I am sitting in a dim lit room. The only light is from the hallway.The machine is beeping its presence beside her bed. The muffled sounds of pages on the loud speakers. The stinging smell of the recently clean floor is finally dissipating. My eyes travel up from the tubes that are snaked under the crisp sheets. I stare at my sleeping sister as she breaths slowly. My heart pounds harder than ever in fear and love.
My sister just came from the recovery room after having a tumor removed. The initial talk is that her cancer might be back. There will be a lot more tests and results to pain stakingly wait for. All I can feel is the powerful déjà vu that takes over my soul-Here we go again. I smooth her sheets and refill her water cup. I refresh the wet washcloth that is kept near to cool her face. Unlike last time, she now has a loving husband who treats her as his queen, and I have young children.
I feel so guilty today. I tried to be a mom to my kids, with an eye on the clock for when my husband will come home, so I can run to the hospital. Outside of my household, my sister is the only family I have. If it were not for the kids, we would post-pone Christmas. It is not the same celebration without her.
As I watch her chest rise and fall, I am grateful that she made it through the surgery so I can be here with her. Her eyes open and peer at me. She smiles through her drug haze. She says how glad she is that I am here. My heart strings tug with full might. Her eyes close again, this time a hand grasping mine. I see the irony just now. I always feel like a mom who doesn’t know what she is doing. All my years of being a big sister proved to be training for this moment, to care for all my loved ones. I exhale a sigh of relief. I know my kids are fine at home with their daddy. I am right where I should be.