I grew up with a special someone in my home. My mother's aunt Threasa. She was deprived of oxygen at birth and subsequently had severe mental delays. She functioned at the capacity of a 5 year old for the most part. She loved coloring, teddy bears and playing with children. I remember as a teenager I would get annoyed with her. But as we grew up she was like our little sister. She was a permanent fixture in our life. Then she got cancer.
I remember the phone call with my mom. Threasa had not been feeling well and they took her to a specialist's appointment. Her GP kept saying it was UTIs. We all knew there was something more. She was not herself. Not eating. Losing weight and strength. My mom told me as I was on the train from Toronto to Windsor to visit good friends. It was cancer. Inoperable, untreatable cancer. It looks like it started in the bowel and was now engulfing the liver. They estimated weeks to months for her life.
I was devastated. I went to the bathroom and cried and cried. Thankful that the train was loud and people couldn't hear me. But I'm sure they saw it on my face as I walked back to my seat. I was losing my 'little' sister. And not only was I not at home, I was heading further away. My visit with my friend was short. I didn't feel like partying or celebrating. I wanted to be home with my family in Cape Breton. I got home to Toronto on Sunday. Threasa had stopped peeing. As a nursing student I knew this was bad. I booked a flight and got home late Monday night. My father picked me up at the airport and we drove home with my brother. Threasa was still awake when I got home. Her voice was weak and she was in bed. But she said to me, 'Shauna, you came home to take care of me.' And I choked on my words. But I said, "Yes. Yes I did". And I did.
We kept vigil at her bedside until Thursday morning at just after 6 in the morning when she died in her own bed, surrounded by her teddy bears. I was graduating from nursing that year and was familiar with what had to be done. I could give her medication through her butterfly once she could no longer swallow. I was happy that I could do this for her. For my mom. We knew that Threasa would be to terrified to be in the hospital.
It has been 5 years now. And I still miss her. She never got to meet my husband. Never knew that the child my sister was carrying when Threasa died was indeed a girl, as Threasa said it was. But I have faith that she somehow sees us. Or feels us. Loving her from a far.