I haven’t been posting lately because I’ve been pretty busy, but now I have more time to write.
I’ve already posted about my sister’s cancer diagnosis last May. However, my life took a drastic turn when she recently passed away. My teachers were kind enough to excuse me from classwork, but in my AP Literature class we were writing poetry and I still wanted to do that just to keep me busy in this difficult time. The assignment was pretty open-ended, and it was nice for me to write about what my family went through. I think writing can help me get on the path to closure. There’s something special about sitting down with a pencil and paper and just writing your thoughts down. After reading the poem, please also read the reflection.
This poem goes out to all the families who’ve struggled with a long battle against cancer and lost. Hopefully one day, cancer will be a disease of the past.
May 16, 2017
I’ll never know what you’re going through,
the tragedy that started last May,
The countless times it beats at you
yet we always knew it would be okay.
“Everything will be fine, soon we’ll be home”
when in reality I had no clue,
“We’re in this together, you’re not alone”
when the only one who suffered was you.
I sat next to you, and watched you play with your arm,
the look of innocence and curiosity on your face
This disease is meant to kill and harm
and leave a 22-year-old in the wrong place.
You should be in college, studying hard,
but instead you’re lying in an ICU bed, physically and emotionally scarred.
It’s amazing how a little clot can make you forget
all the memories we’ve made over the years.
Though to you it’s like we just met,
I still hold your hand and stifle a tear.
We were at checkmate the day you relapsed.
The stroke made it as if you were already gone.
It felt like my heart collapsed,
but I told you that you’ll get better and live on.
I fear that one day, maybe in twenty years,
I’ll look at a photo and reminisce.
Six beautiful people, but one’s no longer here
You’ll be just a memory, someone to miss.
But that won’t happen, sorry for scaring you,
We’ll both be in college, where we belong
Nobody will know what you went through
How you fought your own body for so long.
You may not remember me, but I don’t care.
As long as you’re alive, that’ll answer my prayer.
May 20, 2017
Its 5:09 PM and I’ve just witnessed the life escape your disease-ridden body.
It’s 5:09 PM and I can no longer hear your heavy-breathing.
It’s 5:09 PM and dad’s telling you he’s sorry.
It’s 5:09 PM and I am still holding the hand of your dead body.
Now you’re nothing but a statistic,
a mere addition to the thousands of people who die from cancer.
Nobody knows the you that’s kind, compassionate, and artistic,
Just the you that lost the fight to cancer.
Mom, Dad, and Av stayed with you while Riya and I left,
We came home and I went to your room.
Last week I waited to wash the sheets until you came home
So that they’d be clean and warm, just how you like them
But that doesn’t matter now,
you’ll never feel the comfort of being home.
I feel cheated and angry
Angry at how my precious sister died
While the criminals and scum of the earth still roam the streets,
Untouched by consequences and punishments.
The family still sings prayers,
as if they could bring you back
What kind of God would let innocent young adults and children
suffer this much and die?
You don’t deserve any of this.
You were supposed to be there during my graduation.
You were supposed to see me walk across the stage like how I saw you.
But now when I look in the crowd you won’t be there
All six of us had so much left to do,
but now the five of us have to live without you.
I’ve always feared being left with stories,
and nothing more to remember you by.
Though everyday will pass with more ease
I’ll always be left asking why.
Why us? Why now?
It’s hard to ask questions that nobody will answer.
I wanted to help but didn’t know how,
So I promised you I’d dedicate my life to stop cancer.
I whispered to you
In the moments before you died,
“I won’t let anyone go through what you went through”
as I sat, as always, by your side.
Nobody values the importance of life
until you see one get snatched away.
The soul leaves the body to afterlife,
and all the thoughts and dreams decay.
There’s nothing you can do,
and oh how you wish,
you wish you cherished every second you had,
because now the clock has stopped.
Ben, there’ll be a day I’ve lived longer without you than with you,
and a day I don’t have new stories to share,
but in the 17 years that we knew,
we’ve learned that life just can’t be fair.
Note to reader: Ben means sister in the western Indian language, Gujarati. To be respectful, you add ben to the end of your sister’s name (Priyanka ben).
The universal lesson of the poem is in the lines, “Nobody values…has stopped”. Two years ago, I would never have expected my sister to die at the age of 22. Some of the worst things that happen are bad because they are unexpected.If I had the chance to tell my sister I love her just one more time, I would do it in a heartbeat. Two years ago, the empty, “love you” at the end of a phone call didn’t mean as much as the last “love you” I said as my sister took her last breath. Why is that? Why can’t we be equally affectionate on a normal day as we are on our loved one’s last day?
Now I ask each of you to reflect on how your relationships are. You’ll probably notice that you could act a little better towards your family and environment. Sometimes we think about ourselves too much. We’re too busy with all these responsibilities that we forget what’s actually important. For example, I regret spending time studying for AP tests when I could’ve been at the hospital talking to my sister. Who knows what I could’ve learned from her that day instead of studying organic chemistry. Obviously I’m not telling you to stop studying, but rather, allocate time towards telling your loved ones that you truly appreciate their presence and everything you’ve learned from them.
If someone told me to do that two years ago, I would’ve thought about it for a couple days and then brushed it off. Why? Because I took my sister’s presence for granted. I regret every fight and disagreement. I would give anything to hear her voice telling me, “Good night,” or “stop talking during the movie,”. So while you have the chance, appreciate who you have and who cares about you. Love them like how you’d want to be loved.
Special thanks to my friends V, P, A, J, A, and A. Also, thank you to my AP Biology teacher, Mr. T, for guiding me through last year and teaching me that positivity goes a long way.
This photo was taken by me in my front yard.