History of a red headscarf

It happened in the middle of one summer night. 2:13 a.m., she was fighting for every breath but couldn’t manage. I was just beside her, couldn’t move, say or do anything but let her go. To the other, better side, when there’s no more pain. After eight months of fighting, we lost her. She left me a red headscarf and a pair of sunglasses. 

National Cancer Institute | Unsplash

Cancer. It was like a hit, straight in the face with an iron fist. This diagnosis heard one of the most influential people in my life. From the beginning, we knew the tumor was that big, so there was a slight chance she would survive. We had nothing but hope, but it was too late. If she had told us about alarming symptoms a few years earlier, the outcome might be completely different. But now I’m here in a foreign country, writing these words and trying to collect a thousand thoughts in my head. Her death changed me entirely, and ironically, I am still here, thanks to that. 

Still, remember a call from my sister. I was sitting at work. She cried and asked me to go to the hospital because doctors told us we had to say goodbye. I lost my breath. I sat next to a wall on the floor and felt completely numb. I said that I had to go and drive home like crazy, barely seeing anything because of tears. Hospital. She came to after an hour-long epileptic attack, still shocked; she took my hand and begged me to take her home. We bid her farewell three times since that situation. No one gave us hope anymore. The worst was observing how she suffered from pain. 

All her life was a struggle. She was always hard working and helpful and went through many losses, pain, and loneliness. There was no place and time for entertainment. But the time never came. One of her biggest dreams was to see the Baltic Sea. We didn’t make it. That was when I realized that all the signs on earth showed that I might end up bad. There were two options – to bid the farewell again, this time to the world, or live life to the fullest, by all means.

Fuu j | Unsplash

I owe her this. She wasn’t as privileged as I am. Her death was the most critical wake-up call I’ve ever experienced. I felt terrible having so many possibilities, and I didn’t have enough courage to do anything. Maybe if we swap our lives, she would use my life better?

So I took the pair of sunglasses and the red headscarf with me. I decided to show her, with my eyes, the world she saw only on the TV. We saw the Atlantic Ocean, woods in Latvia, Donau River sitting on the bench near Budapest Parliament. We pet Turkish cats met at the corner of some of Istanbul’s streets. And now I want to show her Macedonia. 

She will always be with me, wherever I go. Even though I am an atheist, I prefer to think she is my guardian right now. I still don’t know what I am looking for in life, but I don’t want to waste more time. I wanted to end with not cliché things. But cannot. Life is freaking short. If you see any alarming symptoms of illness in you or your loved ones, go to the doctor before it’s too late. Please.

Aleksandra Kanasiuk

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