I followed her into the hospital. She hated hospitals. I knew it from the moment they had had to study the dots on her lower stomach oh so many years ago. Soyala didn't like doctors' offices. It was not something I could blame her for. Who would be mad at someone for loathing the places that had made a careful study of her most private parts of life when she was such a young age? But that wasn't something that she would talk about. She was just herself, and that was okay.
But lately she wasn't herself. Lately...lately she had been someone I didn't know. Someone I didn't recognize. Soyala had become someone who would let something get to her. It scared me more than any possibilities that the doctors could give us. What would become of my family if we lost my sister before she was really even sick? She had been brave, and strong before. She had survived stalkers, rapists, peers from her school, and hateful vengeance seekers. She had survived her family for oh so long. But now, just one headache took her down? Somehow that didn't seem right.
Well that was the very reason we were at the doctors' offices. They weren't going to be polite about it, we knew, because this had become serious. It had started as a migraine. But when pills didn't make the pain go away, things had become serious. She had started doing things like no headache before. Vomiting, mood swings, stomach aches, muffled hearing, temporary blindness....fainting is where we drew the line. It had happened oh so suddenly. We had been cooking, smiling and laughing with each other when she had frozen, a face one of blank pain. She dropped the precious spam she was holding and it fell and bounced on the floor. “Soyala?” I asked, nervous. She didn't respond. Then, like something out of a movie, her eyes had rolled and she had collapsed onto the floor. And she didn't bounce.
Now we sat in the hospital. Soyala was sitting, wrapped in a blanket, her eyes dull. We knew her head hurt, but that wasn't the cause of her sour mood. She was upset because she simply didn't like hospitals, and there was nothing we could do to soothe that. The fact that my sister was so scared scared the shit out of me. She was usually so strong, so indifferent that it was hard to see her as anything but.
“Leisu,” they called. We stood and helped her back into the room. They drew the curtain and gave her a hospital gown to wear. We all watched her as she sat, staring blankly, fear drawn on her face.
“Soyala,” I said quietly. She looked at me, eyes full of fear and pain, but something more, something I couldn't place. “We'll be here for you when you get back.” She just nodded. The point of the hospital trip was to get her an MRI done to see if there was anything we didn't know about her brain. That was that, but it still scared Soyala.
“Hello,” said a smiling stiff faced nurse. She looked at Soyala encouragingly and said, “Sorry about the wait. There was some confusion about rooms...” her voice trailed off as she saw the look on Soyala's face. “You have to use a wheelchair, because the hospital is liable if you get hurt.” She rolled in the wheelchair and Soyala climbed on.
“Tala,” she said just before she was pulled away. I looked up at her.
Her eyes held a hidden meaning. “You be here when I get back?” I nodded as she was rolled away.
We all sat in a room. I thought that was especially cruel. While my sister, my twin who shared my flesh and blood, who shared my room and my house was in an MRI in a hospital gown, I had to sit in a white room with pretty pictures and other families just like me. I got to be comfortable while my sister had to be forced into discomfort, and I just had to stand by and watch.
Cruelty turned to boredom. There was nothing to do but wait. (I'm guessing that's why they call it a waiting room.) We sat in a shell of fear, impatience, lethargy, and confusion that the mayhem of the hospital outside that room barely reached us.
Then they wheeled in my sister.
“Leisu,” the nurse called questioningly. My mom and myself stood. The nurse signalled us back and we followed her as she pushed my sister in her chair. A doctor come in and had a handful of pictures. It had taken some time, but where had it gone? I hadn't noticed just how long the hospital visit was, just how much time it was wasting for my sister. But even not yet knowing the painful truth of my sister's headaches, we knew that time was short for her, though how short, we couldn't tell yet.
“Mrs. Leisu, we found a tumorous lump on your daughter's brain,” he said readily. I was right, he wasn't nice about it. He was frank and rude, and I didn't like how he just put my sister's diagnosis into such simple words. Nothing could describe the sheer amount of pain we knew we'd experience, the loss and infertility of that moment. By simply saying those words, the doctor had handed us death on a dinner plate, and he was only saying them to get payed.
We could all hear the silence as the doctor told my mom of my sister's fate. I looked in Soyala's eyes. She had known all along, I thought in that moment. She had known her fate was sealed.