Canadian Authors–Victoria 2017 Flash Creative Nonfiction Contest Second Prize

Sleep Sister, Sleep by Louise Doucet (Salt Spring Island)

“Visiting hours are over. You will have to leave now.”

A nurse has entered the darkened room, unaware that we, the sisters, will not leave, afraid if we do, she will slip away, unnoticed. Her departure, a lonely event. No loving hand holding hers, trying to pull her back, wishing she could stay, just a little longer. We come together, sensing her time slowly slipping away. We come to care for her. To care for her children. To care for ourselves. Together. She is too weak to speak or open her eyes. She knows we are there. She squeezes our hands every now and then. Especially when we sing.

No one comes to stop the sweet sound of our voices, rising together, blending as one, filling this ugly room with images of our shared past. Each song tied to a memory only we understand. The song Papie sings, watching his model train go round and round. The song Mamie sings picking strawberries in the garden. The song dad sings digging the fire pit, cooking oysters on the beach. The song mom sings when she tucks us all in, her lavender perfume promising sweet dreams. Each new song breathing life in this cold room. Melodies quieting the drone of stainless steel machinery. The room transforms. A sacred chapel where we gather. To sing our sister to sleep.

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