My warrior sister gave a warning sign about death before she passed. She said, “mepa, all you need in this life, is humility and endurance.” I was instructed to write down her last thoughts because she knew she was fading. It was a time to learn of endurance most of all because I had no courage in me to face the inevitable.
But as she slowly faded she opened her eyes from time to time to say things like,
“ mepa, I can see moanalei,” ( my late daughter to those who do not know us) and later as she was getting even more weaker, she whispered,
“mepa, I feel like I am fading. “
As quiet and as brave as I could, I moved closer to her ear, with my fingers caressing her hair, to say what I could without crying,
“I am here.”
When she closed her eyes, and the doctor said to prepare to let her go, I told him, as I felt braver still,
“ I won’t let go till she does.”
Why do we fear sorrow anyway? What is it that makes us not want to face death as it is staring back at us? Where do we go if we let go of our loved ones when they die?
I learned of endurance then and there. It is holding on no matter what. It is looking at death square in the eye unintimidated.
But October passed by swiftly. I tried in so many ways to define my existence without my sister during her precious month. The reason for saying October is precious is because it is the month of awakening awareness not only in our minds but in the hearts of all politicians, business people, the ordinary worker, the cancer patient, and the families of cancer sufferers. Precious only because it is a disease that digs deep into our hearts for a courage that is barely there because we know death is coming sooner or later.
The reason for defining who I am in October is that when a warrior like my sister dies, all lights go out. But my sister Mana graced October for the rest of my life and those of her family’s and close friends, to say that it is about living despite dying. It is about loving despite pain. It is about moving despite sinking.
She was born on the 26th of October. She would have been 43 last week. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she said to me, “ Pinktober is definitely my month.” In which case we both laughed, because we do not celebrate our birthdays for the fear of egotism was handed to us as young girls. Neither perfect nor harmful, we carried life as believers in ideals, in good mottos, in superb things and people most of all. But my sister had the knack of tease and insult on her tongue so that when someone was too much, she was the first and last to speak in the cases thereof. And no, she feared nobody, not even our father whose every word was my command.
This is a short rag to celebrate in belated words my sister’s precious month. And it is to say that if endurance and humility are all we need to live by, then I have learned from my dear brave sister, to love sorrow as much as we want to love laughter. So to dear October, I fare thee well till next year. Perhaps by then, I will have found myself smelling flowers instead of looking at graves. For now, I will visit Mana’s grave to smile at the memory of sisterhood, and to hold her hand in spirit.