Aida Zabidi
How does it feel to watch your friend die in front of your eyes? 

Numbing. 

Despite having faced death many times before, despite knowing the inevitable, it was not the same. It hurts knowing what you do sometimes. 

I was there when I could, one among the many family members and friends who were there at the bedside when she slipped into unconsciousness. I was among the first to come when I received the call. 

“Please come, she might not have long.” 

Toots had rung all of us, in the panic born of the impending loss of a loved one, and we had come. We had come, watched her as she slipped in and out of delirium, as she gasped for breath while simultaneously fighting the oxygen machines. We said prayers, held her hands, spoke to her whatever words we could, words of spirit and reassurance, pleas to fight and hold on. 

What else can you do? 

There is a certain helplessness when someone has their own battle to go through, a fight that you cannot be part of. We were only supporters at the seats of the ring, cheering for someone despite never knowing if she would hear our cheers.

We were relieved when she came out of her delirious state, and was able to talk and joke with us again. Tired, but alert, back to her old self. 

I have heard it is a common enough occurrence that happens when people are about to die. They come to, and speak to their loved ones, and tell stories and for a moment, it was as if things were going to be better, and life would move on. 

She slipped into unconsciousness the next day and never woke up. 

The family and the treating physician made the decision not to resuscitate, to let her go in peace. 

It’s difficult knowing what everything means when you have a medical background. 

What it meant when her blood pressure dropped, even when she was already on noradrenaline. The way she was gasping despite the high flow oxygen. When the cardiac monitor started to show arrhythmias. The way her peripheries started turning blue, and how cold her fingers feel in mine. The way her pupils become unresponsive, an hour after her blood pressure drops. 

How do you describe to those around you, the exact feeling when you see those body systems fail? 

You can’t. But you know the signs, and you wait.

Everyone is already coping with their grief, but there is always hope at the back of their minds. I can only caution, and counsel for the worst. 

She passed away at 12.17am on the 15th of December. She was only 29. 

I know among us, we are struggling with the loss of our friend. She was a wonderful person, filled with warmth and good cheer. She was so loved, and the corridors of the hospital were overflowing with visitors waiting just to see her, which was just a testament to the type of person that she was. 

You filled my life with good memories, and I’m going to smile, because that was the exact type of spirit you were – one who was desperately trying to protect her friends from the pain of seeing her succumb to cancer. You would always smile, and make us laugh, and you never wanted to let us see how vulnerable you were. I wish you had, but I understand your reasons.

Dear Sarah, I hope you know how much you are loved, and how much you will be missed. I hope our prayers keep you warm and that you are finally free of the suffering you went through in this life, and that the pain you felt were a cleansing of your sins. 

Innalillah. And Al-Fatihah.
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