In the darkness of the night, as her death stared us in the face, the repository of images and memories in the recesses of my mind burst open. Year by year, town by town, home by home, the images, much like layers of an onion, peeled away, each so anecdotally rich. Our last lunch out together when we were in splits of laughter as she decided that the only way she could comfortably come down the stairs of the restaurant was on her butt. The time when she called me out into the garden to see a particularly well-endowed aunt and pointed out to the full moon whose face, she said, mirrored my aunt's. The fun bicycle rides we would go on as children, except that she would be on a tricycle and it made no difference to us. The outstretched hand of chocolates and candies that she always held out to my little daughter, no matter how much she loved sweets and would want to hoard them for herself. The night before Easter when she would raid the first aid box and gently layer a wicker basket with cotton wool to await treats from the Easter Bunny. Music was her world, as were horses.
Our sister was a special needs child. Born breech at a time when ultrasound scans were unheard of, she suffered irreversible brain damage during the birthing process and was mentally challenged from birth. She had many limited abilities but, equally, many extraordinary ones.
I would not know for sure, but would like to believe that somewhere, some aspiring doctors have learnt more about medicine and the human body because of my sister.
As a flashback of life with my sister filled my being during her last few hours, I knew there was only one thing for us to do. The chain of giving and loving and sharing could not be broken. As much joy and happiness my sister had given us in her life, we had to pass it on. When the ICU nurse's knock on our door brought the news that it was all over, my mind had been made up. A quick discussion with my mum and my siblings who lived overseas, and it was all in place. Her eyes (the only part that could be donated as she died inexplicably and no one knew if other organs had been damaged) would be donated. Her body would be handed over to the hospital for medical research. We would ask all our family and friends at her funeral to, instead of flowers, make a contribution to the Diya Foundation, a vocational centre for differently abled adults that my sister found much joy and solace in during her last few years.
Today, two young children have the gift of sight because of my sister. I would not know for sure, but would like to believe that somewhere, some aspiring doctors have learnt more about medicine and the human body because of my sister. The Diya Foundation has a special chocolate making unit set up in memory of my sister from the donations received during her funeral service. Befitting because my sister just loved her sweets. Carolyn had assumed a whole new form and meaning through Chocolyn.
Ten years have passed since we last physically saw my sister but deep down in my heart, there is a calmness that descends from the knowledge that my sister is alive in the two youngsters that can now see and in the chocolates that perpetuate her name and memory. But the bigger calmness is in knowing that all the joy she gave us...we were able to pass it on.
Who said death cannot have a happy ending?