Friday, November 11, 2005

Death in the Family

My aunt died last night. She has been sick for some time now and I knew that they rushed her to the hospital the night before because she was having difficulty breathing so her death didn’t exactly came as a shock. She had a myocardial infarction but her body has long since been weakened by cancer. I was woken up very early in the morning not with the usual sound of my 3 alarm clocks getting off (2 alarm clocks set to go off 10 minutes apart and the alarm function of my mobile phone) but by the ringing of my landline phone. And before I can even register in my mind who the person on the other end of the line was, my mother broke the sad news. She told me that my aunt died sometime during the night and that she died peacefully.

The other details I learned later when I called back my mother in the afternoon. I learned that there was a small debate before she died whether or not she should be connected to a lung machine. The fear of some of my relatives was that she would be just like those patients we hear about in stories that hover seemingly forever at the brink of death suffering needlessly. Thankfully she was conscious at the time and she gave her assent. It is good to know that she eventually passed away peacefully and not struggling for every breath had she not used the machine.

I remember declaring to everyone when I was still small that she was my favorite aunt (well to be honest, this particular honor passed on to several other aunts as I grew up) because we were both dog lovers. I got my dog Scamper from her. Their house is always full of barking, playful (and sometimes vicious!) dogs. But usually these dogs are the small furry kind so they don’t look too threatening. Scamper was a mixed breed but he looked very much like a Lhasa Apso. 

When I was in grade school, my cousins and I used to eat at her apartment near the school. She would greet us with her big smile and her curly reddish hair (the result of years of dying her hair I suspect). The last time I saw her was when my brother and I came for a visit last year in November (almost exactly a year ago). We were greeted by the familiar barking dogs, the same warm smile and the familiar peroxide bleached hair only much lighter in color and she walked with the aid of a walking cane. She will be dearly missed by all of our family and friends.

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Update: I also learned later that her companion at home also died a few days later almost as if they had an agreement to accompany each other beyond this life. I wonder what will become of the dogs.

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