I was heartbroken and angry but horse riding and medieval poetry revealed the quest I was on
This April, I will be older than my elder sister Nell. She died of cancer in December 2019. She was 46 when she died, two years older than me. This year I will be 47. Nell will always be 46. Writing “Nell died” still disturbs me as it did in the months after her death. She was my older sister. She wasn’t supposed to die. As little girls we learned to talk lying in beds beside one another. We sat in the same bath water, shared the same toothbrush, wore the same knickers, fought over the same toys.
Her prognosis had been good. Days before her death, we were told she had years – maybe as many as 10 of them – to live. I didn’t think about death; I didn’t want to let it jinx anything by letting its shape enter my consciousness. Ten days later, I was in a hospital room with Nell and our father when a consultant knelt by her bed and told her she had a day to live. I wanted to tell death to stop, to block it from entering the room, to scream at death that I wasn’t ready for it to take her from me. But death when it comes, is unstoppable. So I stood by her bed with her as death came into the room and did its thing.