I was planning to visit Sofie at the hospital tomorrow (Monday). After her sister called me up to inform me that Sofie had to be transferred to the ICU, I had not gone to visit Sofie. I didn’t want to visit during the weekend as I figured there’d be many relatives visiting and I didn’t want those relatives to be asking who I was. Many of them don’t even know Sofie has HIV. After one of her sisters (the one Sofie had been staying with initially when she was first diagnosed HIV+) told the whole kampong that her sister had HIV, Sofie didn’t know who else to trust. The only one she trusted was one sister who had always been closest to her. This sister moved from another state to Perak and found a job here, all for the sake of taking care of Sofie.
Anyway, although I was planning to just stay home today, around noon Saiful (Sofie’s son) called me up. “Makcik, doktor kata mama takde masa lama lagi. Mungkin boleh bertahan sejam aje lagi. Dah cabut dah wayar semua.”
Actually Sofie had been on life support system ever since she was transferred to the ICU (actually it was the isolation unit at the HDU). After 5 days, the doctors discussed among themselves and decided that all the treatment given was not working. In fact Sofie’s condition worsened. Her internal organs were no longer working. There was nothing else they could do.
When Saiful called it was already noon… already visiting hours. I figured I might as well let relatives visit, so I decided to go only after zohor in case they needed help. Just as I was about to leave my house, I noticed there were 2 missed calls from Saiful. I called back, and as expected, Saiful told me his mother had passed on. I told him I was on my way.
Parking had never been easy at the hospital, although today it wasn’t as bad as on a weekday when so many people go for their appointments. Just as I was looking around to park, a car got out of a parking space, just perfect timing for me to park my car. It wasn’t 2 pm yet, so there were still many people waiting for the lifts. Apparently only 2 of the 6 lifts were working. Initially I wanted to wait for the lifts so I could get up to the 8th floor faster, but after looking at the crowd waiting, I might as well take the stairs, just as I did when I went to visit Sofie earlier.
Saiful was outside the ward when I got up to the 8th floor. His aunt and his older brother had gone down to arrange for a van jenazah to bring Sofie’s body home. I went straight in to the HDU. Azman and Ika were there. The nurses were about to do whatever procedures they had to do for HIV related death cases, but when they saw me, they allowed me to have a look before they started the procedure.
After a while, Sofie’s sister came back to the 8th floor together with the document for the booking of the van jenazah. Her step-mother came along, and a neighbour too came with her son. None of them knew Sofie had HIV. Sofie’s jenazah was to be brought home to the sister’s house, after all the urusan jenazah is done at the hospital. It being a procedure for a rep from the Pejabat Kesihatan to monitor deaths involving HIV+ people, we didn’t want to risk these people to become suspicious because of the various procedures taken. So we told them to go to the sister’s house first and bring the children with them so they could help with whatever preparations needed at home. So yes, finally there was only Sofie’s sister and myself left to arrange for whatever necessary at the hospital.
It being a Sunday, things initially were quite slow. We had to wait for the doctor to sign the necessary documents, then we had to wait for the staff from the Pejabat Kesihatan to come before the jenazah could be brought down from the ward. Alhamdulillah we got things settled by 5 pm. The hospital’s van jenazah was to bring Sofie’s body to the sister’s house, for other relatives to pay their last respect and for the solat jenazah to be done before she is brought to the Tanah Perkuburan in another van jenazah arranged by those at home. The hospital’s van jenazah would usually just send the body home and that’s it, off they go.
Just as the hospital’s van jenazah arrived at the morgue, a call came informing us that the neighbourhood van jenazah was at the workshop. They (those arranging matters at the sister’s house) asked if we could arrange with the hospital’s van driver to wait a while for the solat jenazah to be done at home and then help send the jenazah to the grave. The driver dared not since there were only 2 of them on standby duty today and so they shouldn’t take too long before they head back to the hospital.
But the guy at the morgue, upon hearing our plight, offered to call someone else who also has van jenazah facilities. Alhamdulillah we managed to settle the matter there and then, the guy with the van jenazah agreed to go to Sofie’s sister’s house before 6 pm.
So off we went, Sofie’s sister together in the hospital’s van jenazah while I followed them in my car. Quite a number of relatives were already waiting at home, including Sofie’s sister who had earlier spread the news about Sofie’s HIV to the whole kampong when Sofie was staying near her house. Also there was Sofie’s sis-in-law who had earlier tried to get me to arrange for her to get the same financial assistance Sofie had been getting. This SIL however, just wanted the money for herself, all her children had stopped schooling despite getting help for her children’s education (not from Buddies but from another group).
Both did try to get close to me while I was at the house but I tried to avoid communicating with them. They both know Sofie’s children are getting help from us. After the solat jenazah was done, I told Sofie’s sister (the one I trust) that I would be heading home first and come visit again the next day when we expect lesser people at home. It would be easier to discuss the children’s future without too many opportunists around.
Sofie had already mentioned clearly that she wanted this sister to take care of the children. She was the only one she trusted. From what I have seen so far, she’s the only one I trust too. Sofie may no longer be around, but I am determined to make sure the children’s future is not compromised by opportunist relatives. I will only deal with the one I can trust.