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The Night My Sister Died 
by Jane Phillips

My sister and I have never been close. We always fought and hurt each other. We grew up estranged. Dad was always upset by that and when he died in 1991, it was with regret that he never saw Julia and I as friends. 

I did try to mend the fences over the years but when Julia has decided you're an enemy, she's resolute and there's no changing her mind. 

I didn’t have much contact with her until a few weeks ago. That was when she was admitted to the Peter McCallum Cancer Institute for a very virulent and virtually unknown form of cancer. It’s very rare and the medical database on it is very limited. 

Let’s just say Julia and I made the time count. The night she was admitted to the hospital she had a dreadful fever. The cancer had reached her brain and she had tumors pressing against the brain tissue. Her short-term memory was all but obliterated. 

I was there with Mum that night. I put cold compresses on her hairless head and held her hands when she needed me. What else was I going to do? 

She looked right at me in a moment of clarity and stated outright, “I’m not going to die. I am NOT going to die!” I looked right back and said, “Well, of course you’re not going to die. You’re not getting out of THIS family that easy. You’re stuck with us.” 

She asked me to take both her hands which I did. Then she looked at Mum and said, “Isn’t she beautiful? Isn’t she just beautiful?” Then she looked right into my eyes and said, “I love you.” She’s never said it before. 

They gave her radiation therapy and managed to shrink the tumor down but we knew then that it was just a case of buying time.

Last Saturday night she was very restless and in a lot of pain. I was with her and incredibly, we got a moment to ourselves. She thanked me for being there for her. She thanked me for being there for Mum and for her babies. Then we got interrupted and I went round the other side of the bed to give her a drink. I forget what was said but I started to laugh. Her response was immediate and spoken with utter conviction. 

She said, “No. Don’t laugh. I’ve never liked your laugh. If you’re going to laugh, you’ll have to leave the room!” 


I immediately felt like laughing up a huge storm. You see, I never liked her laugh either! It was just so simpatico. 

Two nights ago, I arranged with my brother to go down to Julia’s house and do the ‘night shift’ again. I went to bed and thought all was well. 

I had a bad dream about Julia that night. Something about her leaving but I cannot recall details. I woke up in a panic. It was 3.15am. I calmed myself and went back to sleep. As you do. 

At 7.15am, my phone rang. It was Mum. My cordless phone, which is usually beside my bed, was out in the lounge. By the time I got to it, Mum had hung up. I called back immediately and got my cousin’s wife. 

I asked her, “Is she gone?” 

She replied, “Yes.” 

I spoke to Mum and found out that Julia had died at 3.15am. 

The really strange thing is that a few days ago I had been thinking that if I couldn’t be there when Julia’s time came to cross over, it would be nice if she would stop by and see me before continuing on her way. I guess she must have heard me even though I never actually asked that of her verbally or indicated that I would like that. 

But there is more.

My cousin, John, had just driven back to Wodonga that night. Wodonga is 300kms north of Melbourne. I live in the top end of the city and it’s a 3-hour drive to MY place. Add another hour and half to get to Julia’s house on top of that. She lives way south of the city and it’s a long way for ME to go to get there. 

Having just done the 5 hour plus drive home, he was naturally exhausted. He received the phone call saying Julia had died and came right back. Normally he would be almost dazed behind the wheel. This night he was so alert it was almost incredible. 

He says that he felt a presence in the car that was almost joyful and lively. He never felt so refreshed, alert and alive. 

I guess Julia had a busy night huh? But it was nice of her to stop by. 

We lived almost 35 years as strangers. The day she died, we were sisters. We still are. Dad got his wish after all.

© 2001 - Jane Phillips

"I'm a Solitary Pagan of many years standing. It's a path that has brought me peace and allowed me to reconnect with those who have passed before me to the Summerlands. I feel protected and loved. With such knowledge, I tread my path with anticipation knowing that when my time comes, many hands will joyfully come to bring me home." 
Jane Phillips, Melbourne, Australia



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