Dr. Ruqaiya Hasan, Hong Kong, Feb 2015; photo by Lexie Don
When our flight lands in Auckland, I turn on my phone to find messages from my sister, who is in Sydney helping with my aunt’s cancer emergency — informing me that my aunt is in critical condition. Prepare for the worst reads one text, after which there are no more messages.
Because it’s four in the morning in Sydney, I can’t phone my sister to find out what is happening, so I call my cousin in California.
“She went fast, and her death was not connected to her cancer,” my cousin tells me. “She passed away the way she wanted. Without pain.”
Though the flight from Auckland to Sydney is less than three hours, the experience feels as if Minal and I are flying around the world several times over. I wanted to see my aunt, but no one knew that she would leave us without any warning.
Once in Sydney, we are together with family so we can comfort each other, and my mother, Minal, and I are present for Ruqaiya Hasan’s pre-cremation ceremony.