There was no indication. She seemed fine.
I mean, okay, last month she found out that all the breathing trouble she'd been having wasn't just a form of bronchitis. She had a pulmonary embolism (fancy talk for a blood clot in her lung).
Drugs - blood thinners, maybe? - took care of it and she was doing fine.
I checked in with her regularly.
Me: How you feeling today?
📞 *talk for about 15 minutes*
~ 2 weeks later
Me: Merry Christmas! How's your lung?
Her: Sleeping well and breathing better.
Somewhere in here, she had a check up with the cardiologist who told her she was fine and he'd see her in six months.
~ 1.5 weeks later
Me: Are you breathing okay?
Her: Absolutely, sleeping normal and not running out of breath with normal activities.
Five days after that last message, my sister, 53 years old, dropped dead of a heart attack.
That's all I got. I'm numb. What can I say?
She is the person I talk to the most from back home. She's the one who keeps tabs on my dad, when my mom insists everyone is "fine". She's the one who works with me to get gifts to people while I live 9,000 miles away.
I don't know what will happen next, when I get a burr up my butt to call her and vent about something, or just to laugh together. I just lost my touch-stone. I'm numb.
This is twice in five months that I've taken a surprise trip to the US for a funeral of a close family member. It's not fun. It's exhausting. I didn't even spend enough time to acclimate to Eastern Time (which means no jetlag on my return to Vietnam, so that was nice).
We got back home 2 days ago, just before Lunar New Year. A fresh start.
The belief here is that you should get rid of the bad before the new year: clean house, cut hair, reconcile... whatever. Get rid of bad juju and start the new year fresh.
That's what I'm hoping for. Death is a part of life, but if I can have a year without such close, heart-rending deaths, that would be great.