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My Sister And I Were Never Close.

I always wanted us to be close, she was my only sister after all. However, although we shared the same childhood traumas, to a degree - I'm not going to get into it here, except to say that it effected us quite differently and we grew up to be very, very, VERY different people.

There was so much about her that drove me nuts, I just wanted to shake her silly most of the time. She could be extremely hurtful. She was greedy and manipulative and used people. She hid her intelligence to attract the attention of men. She would cut us all off for months or years on end until it suited her and she needed something. The list goes on ...

Approximately 4 years ago she was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. She spent the last four years in and out of hospitals, more in than out, fighting the disease and the side effects of chemotherapy treatments and bone marrow transplants. It was awful, I don't wish it on anyone's worst enemy.

The steroids made a normally skinny girl bloat to almost 400lbs. Her kidneys and liver were failing. Her heart was ... I can't even remember the words - it wasn't good. The Graft vs. Host because of the bone marrow transplant (given by my younger brother) affected her eyes, she was almost blind. She lost all of her teeth due to decay from constant vomitting while undergoing chemo and other powerful drugs. Her legs almost had to be amputated due to a bacterial infection. You name a possible bad side effect and she had it.

I lived about 14 hours away from her, but as i am a housewife I obviously have a very flexible schedule. So I would try to be out there as much as possible, especially when she was getting to go home for a bit and needed help. Or when she was beginning some new treatment. Or any one of a half a dozen times they called and told us she wasn't going to last more than another month.

During all of this she was still the same old sister, horrible. Selfish. Greedy. Hurtful. Spiteful. I'd go to visit her at the hospital and the first thing she would ask was what I brought her, or could I go buy her a bunch of stuff. Or she would literally try to take jewellery or things I had in my purse that she liked/wanted. When she had good times she never called any of us, when she had bad times or fought with her husband and in-laws I was the first call she made. She spewed venom about our childhood, blaming me for everything, for the abuse, for acting like her mother because I had to take care of my siblings while our parents were busy being absent.

There were so many times during her illness that I had enough. I mean yes, she was horribly horribly sick and she was my sister, but a person can only handle so much. Can only be a punching bag so many times. I would always end my visit, heading back home vowing that was it. That I had said my good-bye's and I wasn't going back.

Last November, the week of my wedding anniversary and my niece's (her daughter's) birthday, just as we were about to head out of town I got an email, and then a phone call late at night. Telling me that the doctors didn't think she would last more than 24 hours. She had been doing great the last few weeks, talking about going home, so it was more than a little un-expected.

I called my mom to figure out what to do and immediately booked the first flight I could out, it was to leave in less than 6 hours. I didn't sleep, afraid I would miss the flight. I actually forgot my id at home on the desk by the computer, had taken it out when booking the flight to make sure I got all the information correct. My husband had to race home to get it, making it just in time. I finally crashed on the plane. Closed my eyes and before I knew it the hour and a half long flight was landing.

It took her about 36 hours to pass away. She was somewhat co-herent, though extremely tired when I got there. I was there as she became less co-herent, as she stopped opening her eyes, as her pain got worse and they had to keep up-ing her Morphine. She slipped into a coma of sorts, mumbling and talking a little bit at first. Then came the groans and the extremely laboured breathing, almost like snoring ... gurgling with each breath. It was disturbing and disgusting. The sound still haunts me, a year later.

I stayed at the hospital, by her side, holding her hand, talking to her - because they said she could hear us. Friends and family came and went. People brought food. We debated wether or not we should bring her children in to say goodbye (they are really young) or if it would traumatize them too much. I watched my brother crying, he never cries. My mom trying to do whatever she could to help everyone else. Her case worker who had become more of a friend than anything painted her nails, because it was what my sister always did. We listened to her favourite music and used my iPad and Facebook to keep extended family updated and receive their wishes and letters they wanted us to read to her.

Then finally, on November 22nd, at about 3:20 in the afternoon her breathing started to get super quick and shallow. I went to get my brother who was taking a break. I got back into the room and she took a really deep ragged breath and then nothing ... for about a minute. She took one more ragged breath and slowly exhaled. That was it ... she was gone.

My sister was horrible, we never got along. But she was my sister, and I loved her, more than you could ever imagine. And last year she died.

I miss her.

A lot.
Hongruilin Hongruilin 31-35, F 15 Responses Nov 19, 2012

Your Response


This touches me. I was estranged from my dad when he passed, lung cancer. I had to process all the anger and resentment in a big-*** hurry. I toiled and worried over what to do. I spoke with my best friend from High School about it, he knew my dad and I knew his. He told me his dad passed about a year earlier, and they grew apart with bitter hatred. He did the same thing I was doing - and missed out. He didn't get to his dad in time and said he would never forget that. And told me I'm an idiot for even stopping to think about it.
He was right. So I turned my attitude upside-down. This was my last chance. He's my dad. I picked up the phone and tried my best to get more family around him. Nobody would even call him. He had three sisters and a brother. All three sisters were "too busy" and nobody was talking to either brother (not my dad nor his brother).
So I went to see him, girlfriend in tow. I met up with my step-brother and sister again, and his wife - and sat next to him for a solid week, keeping him company, listening to him tell stories.
They were moving him the day I had to blow out of town to go back to work. He picked up pneumonia, his body too far gone to handle the move. A few days later he was gone, and I came right back down to attend his funeral.
It is a bittersweet memory. He told me many things about the past, from his point of view, and I listened with an open mind, learning new ways to see those events that were different from my own experience. It doesn't invalidate my memories or my anger - but it did help me understand more about who he was and what he was thinking, and I can now remember him with more compassion than anger. So for me, all in all the experience was positive.
And yeah, I miss him, too.

*huggles TVM very tightly* ... thank you for sharing that.

Growing up I always heard, "Blood is thicker than water." No matter how horrible our relations can be, there is a love bond that binds us to them. Sorry for your loss Hong. As much as I have grieved losses throughout my lifetime, I haven't experienced losing a sibling. I can only imagine the heartbreak. xoxoxo UJ

Thank you UJ, it's certainly not an experience I wish on everyone.

I'm thinking how damaged and hurt and angry she must have been to act the way she did. Seeing you being so strong, so well adjusted and so happy probably made her even angrier that she couldn't overcome stuff the way you had. And beneath all how much she must have loved you even if she had no idea how to show it. She needed you and she resented you because of how much she needed you. And had you behaved any other way with her, you wouldn't be the Hongruilin I have come to know and love very dearly. You are most definitely one of the best humans I have ever met.

*blushes* ... I'm humbled by your compliments, and I hope I live up to them. It makes me smile a bit to hope that somewhere in there she did love me inspite of everything.

She did love you, no matter how she acted, that love was always a part of her. You never outgrow sibling love, no matter what, some of it lives on within us forever.

I am sorry Hong. Life can often be harsh and brutal. Yet you endured and emerged more wonderful a person from every trial. * huggles the heck out of you *

Thank you my friend, I do my best. :-)



*hugs...big ...long hugs'
Tears in my eyes H as I read's funny how life and the hardships of it effect people so differently...the same sun that hardens clay melts butter as they say...I'm glad you reacted to her the way you did...loved her the way you did...was there for her the way you have a good heart. I am honored and privileged to know you. Many times love for family or others is not reciprocated or even seemingly appreciated...the kind of love you showed your sister is the real deal. I ache for your loss my friend...

*smiles fondly*

Thank you sweetie. I'm okay. It has it's moments, and it was difficult (still is at times) but I'm relieved I can say I acted the way I did. I'm able to live with myself and my choices and solid in the knowledge that as difficult as it was I loved my sister as best I could and was there for her in the end.

Now I focus on being there for her children.

I'm sorry for your loss and everything you've been through. Even though your sister was not an easy person to get along with, you did the right thing by being with her in the end. Thanks for sharing your story.

You're welcome. I really shared it as much for myself as for anyone else. I just needed to get it out. Thank you for reading and commenting on it.

::Super Internet Huggies::

You... are a very strong person. This story is a peek into the pain you had experienced and by the Gods, death of anyone close to us is very vulnerable.

What you did for your sister, however, was even more so. To continue to take the treatment she dished out and then for you to turn around and say "No more!" but in the end, still being there for her...

I've still got lots to learn in this Life. One of those things is what you shared here and also what others have said along the way. The Love outweighs the bad deeds.

Thank you. For reading, for commenting, for your kind words. I hadn't read this story in awhile, and it made me tear up to do so. You are most correct. Love outweighs the bad, always, in the end it "Never Fails".

I am sorry :((( the love a family member outweighs the bad deeds. we love them, but we don't usually agree with what they do.

You put it better then I was able to. The love does outweigh the deeds. Thank you.

As horrible as your sister was to you and everyone else around her throughout life the best thing you could do was not give up on her. She might not have shown it or even said it in a way that most people do, but she loved you all th same and certainly appreciated all the time you spent with her throughout life and in her final days. Love holds no bonds and stretches far beyond the cosmos. Do not dwell on the greving and the pain of her passing but on her life and happyness.

This was a truly heartfelt story. I too am moved to tears. Life is strange, attaching us to people who we most likely wouldn't hang out with, except we have to because they're family. Family has a way of teaching many life lessons like, patience, acceptance, dealing with anger, etc. Your sister was lucky to have you, whether she knew it yet or not. I'm sure she knows now.

Thank you. I'm touched that you were moved to tears and by your kinds words of consolation.

Your right, family is a funny, funny animal. We don't get to choose them, we can't help loving them (even when we hate them) and they teach us more than anything else in life ever will.

I am by no means a patient person, but my sister did help to teach me more patience.

Your experience moved me to tears. I understand your feelings.
I have a similiar relationship with my sister.
We live in the same small town, haven't spoken in four years, after the division of my parents worldly goods, that she seemed not to get enough of. I saw her true colours during this period, and haven't spoken to her since.
Your story has really hit home with me, how much you were there for your sister.
Your relationship with one another was unique
And you both knew it.

I miss my sister too..I miss her alot..
I am so sorry your sister had to endure such a lengthy, painful death .I am also sorry for your loss as well as your families
Your experience sounded just like mine, then it took an unfortanate turn. I could not believe what I was reading

Be well, friend (((HUG))

Thank you so much for your kind and sincere words. It's nice to know that in sharing my experience I have been able to touch people.

And thank you for sharing your own struggles with your sister. It's encouraging to know I was not/am not the only one dealing with things such as these and how heart breaking they can be. All I can say to you is this: be open to forgiving your sister her "true colors" even if she doesn't change and treats you like crap.

I debated, more than once cutting my sister off/out ... especially when her illness dragged on and it was so difficult to continue to love and care about it because of her actions. I can honestly say though, that in looking back I know I would have hated myself and beat myself up over it for the rest of my life if I had.

So don't make that mistake, your a good person, you should never have to be saddled with regrets if life takes and unfortunate turn for either of you.

Much love and hugs!

There is nothing I can say or add to this experience, except to applaud you on being true to yourself, despite the total selfishness of your sibling. This story touched me, and thank you for sharing it.

Thank you for your comment. I just needed to spew and get it off my chest/out there. I'm glad it touched you.

It just reaffirms my faith in humanity when I see people being true to themselves, and in a capacity that betters and enriches the lives of those around them.

I like it when my inner cynic dies just a little bit. ;)

Inner cynics dying a little bit is never a bad thing :-)

I am so sorry for your loss, unfortunately people sometimes never change, I am sure you probably though she would change her behavior while she was so sick, I am sure she is watching you out there and knows how much you cared for her.

Thank you very much.

This is both a heartbreaking and beautiful account of what must have been a terrible time for you; i'm so so sorry for your loss, I know you said you two weren't very close but she was still family and i know how much losing family hurts. You are an incredibly strong person and I admire you now more that ever!

Thank you for your kind words. It was a terrible time, I hope I never have to experience something like it again. And yes, loosing her hurt, a lot, even though we weren't close.