My silent rock

We were sitting in your car, chatting about the week that had passed. It had been a good week. We spent a lot of time together. We had never been that close, but this visit felt somewhat special. Then the coach arrived and it was time to depart. I took a window seat, so I could wave you good-bye. Little did I know that I would have to return three weeks later, to watch you die.

The call came on a Wednesday evening, the day after your birthday. Mum said that they kept you in hospital because your cancer had spread further and was now affecting your liver function. It felt like a stab with a knife. I felt sick. That night I could not sleep. The next day I rang the hospital. The doctor told me that you will probably not survive the next week. I booked a plane to fly over on Friday. Anna and Steve were waiting for me at Frankfurt airport. Anna was crying. She was always good at sticking her head in the sand. When I told her what the doctor had said, she did not believe me, she thought you could be cured from this evil disease. We were always the most unlike sister and it really showed in the way we were dealing with your illness. As soon as you told me in April, that the cancer had spread to your liver, I knew that there was no cure. Anna thought that chemo could get you well again.

There we were at the airport in June preparing ourselves for what was yet to come. We drove straight from the airport to the hospital. The morphine had made you sleepy and weak. You looked at me with your big blue eyes and I started crying. Mum had told me, not to tell you that we knew the end was near. You must have known though. You asked me why I came all the way from England to visit you in hospital and you wanted to know how long I was staying. I told you that I was staying for as long as you needed me. You looked at the ceiling. There were tears in your eyes. You asked us to leave as you were feeling tired. Outside the hospital I could not stop crying. I did not want you to die. Not like this. Not now.

I went to your house, the place I call ‘home’. I locked the front door, unplugged the phone and sat in your chair in the living room. It smelled of you. I was crying. I was thinking about three weeks ago, when we were out shopping together and how we laughed and joked. I felt so safe being around you, although you never said much, but just being there was always enough.

I visited you every day in hospital. I stayed for hours by your bed and read, but you probably did not notice. You were sleeping most of the time. Every night I was lying awake scared that the hospital might call. Than on Tuesday night the phone rang. It was Anna, the hospital said that you got worse and we should come over. Anna and Steve picked me up, as I was in such a state. We got to the hospital and the nurse put three chairs by your bed and dimmed the light. You were sleeping.

We were holding hands. You woke up after a while, looked at us and wanted to know why we were here already and you told us that we are getting on your nerves. Then you fell asleep again. When the morning came Steve had to go home and feed the dog, so Anna and I stayed. Your heart was beating so fast. You were in a lot of pain. We sat by your bed for hours. Anna went to have a smoke. I held your hand and squeezed it gently, and told you that I loved you, but you pulled it away, with a rapid move and held your chest. I knew you would not reply. I called the nurse and she injected you with something to ease the pain. Anna returned and we sat there. In the afternoon the hospital psychologist told us to go home and have a rest and a shower. She said that you needed a rest and that our constant presence made you restless and tired. I did not want to leave! We went into your room and said goodbye and told you we were going to be back later. Your duvet had slipped from the bed and your legs were dangling out. I put your legs back into bed and covered you up. You did not say anything. Your eyes were open wide, as if you were asking me to help you, but I could not. As much as I wanted to ease your pain and suffering, I was helpless. We left the hospital at two in the afternoon.

At quarter past four came the call. You had died. From one moment to the next, in the blink of an eye you were gone and we had to face live without you. We went to the hospital to say our final farewells. You looked so peaceful. Nothing in the world could worry you now. I guess you wanted to die by yourself. You hang on until we were gone. It is hard to understand, because I did not want you to do this by yourself, but I guess you were right, as usual.

Your funeral was a week later on a Friday. We arranged everything as you wished. It was a small affair, with just a few people that were closest to you. The vicar summed up your life with such beautiful words. After the ceremony the vicar took your urn and we followed her out of the little chapel into the cemetery, in the background was one of your favourite songs playing. Everything seemed peaceful and quiet. Anna and I walked directly behind the vicar. We were both shaking and crying. I lifted my head, when I saw a figure behind the hedge in the distance with, what looked to me like a camera. I whispered to Anna and nodded in the direction of the figure and she agreed. As we stood in front of your last resting place I could no longer keep silent and I blurted out that there is a man taking pictures of us. The vicar looked up and was as shocked as the rest of us. Steve started to walk over to the hedge and as he was about four feet away from the figure, he ran off into the distance and disappeared. We were all shocked. A big sadness came over me, as that person had now spoiled your funeral and the peacefulness. The vicar put your urn into the ground and we said good-bye. Then we walked home to have some coffee and to calm down. Now, I was filled with hate and determined to find out who that person was. I did not need to wait long, when a neighbour rang the door bell and told us that she saw your cousin take pictures of us at your funeral. She was disgusted and urged us to call the police, but we did not. We left the vicar to deal with that, as we were all still too shocked and upset by everything.

I stayed for four weeks in Germany that was the longest and saddest visit ever. I have not returned yet to see the stone on your grave, but I will come and visit soon. I promise, but this time there will be emptiness and silence where there was once you. I hope that you have now found your peace, as you did not find it in this world. I will always love you and you will always be a part of me. You were my silent rock, because you never said much, but I could always come to you if I needed protection from the world, a place to feel safe, a harbour to come home to. You listened but never judged and you were always there, solid like a rock.