Our mother was taken away from us June 26th 2021. We buried her the next day without saying goodbye , without seeing her face without hugs and kisses, as you would, when we usually leave the house.
Our mother was a long time sufferer from diabetes. Her mother, was too, a diabetic. It was after Dad died that her health started to deteriorate. I can’t say that her remaining years were sad or lonely. She had us, and she had her grandkids to worry, fuss and nag after. But towards her last few years she faded fast. That’s how she ended up in the hospital, an infection developed and she was immediately admitted to fight it with strong antibiotics.
Due to an outbreak at the hospital, our mother contracted Covid. Her health already vulnerable and mentally fragile, her healing became secondary, she was hanging on to each breath. We can only imagine her confusion and nightmarish state. My sister was at the brunt of it, Mom would call her every so often from her mobile , frantic calls of “ I can’t breathe…call the nurses…I dropped my meds…I can’t see where I dropped them…they won’t come…my oxygen mask is not on right…” And my sister, she would try her best to calm her down and then call the front desk and begged them to attend to our mother.
It was on a Sunday, hours before she fell unconscious, 6 days before she passed , and 21 days in the hospital alone, she begged us to take her home, her last words to each of us, in Germany, in Kuala Lumpur and in Penang, she said “Take me home, I am tired, I can’t stand it, I want to go home” . Those were her last words.
WAS IT ME?
Days leading up to her passing, I prayed in my heart to take her pain away. I wanted it all to go away. Do what is right for her, take her pain away, do what it takes to take her pain away, I was talking to God. Was it selfish wishful thinking from me, was it for my sake? Did I ask for it for me? What if I had wished for her to get better? GOD MAKE HER BETTER! Should I have asked for that? Wishes, prayers and hoping.. do they work for miracles? Should I have wished that? Was I good enough to wish that for her? If I had promised You that I would be a better person, would You have changed her fate? I kept praying for You to do the right thing, because I’m told You always do. You took away her pain yet You also took her away from me.
Death is Personal
In Islam, we bury our dead within 24 hours. On the 27th of June 2021 we buried our mother. On the 27th of June was also my birthday. Today was the day she gave birth to me. I am looking for signs of you. What is it about my birth that allowed you to override it with death. Did you want to remind me that without you I wasn’t a possibility? As we huddle over the fresh earth above you, on this day, of my birth and your death, did you plan this for me? Is this your final lesson? Ma? Are you angry at me that I was celebrating my birthdays without you for all these years? The 27th of June was your day as much as it was my day, yet it was yours more. I am your first child, I am your first for everything. It was your first day as a mother , and it was also your last day on this earth. The brilliancy of life and the slap of death, all in one day. I will look out for you each day Ma, and especially on my next birthday and many birthdays to come, you will be with me. You showed me life, in your death.
Layers and layers and layers…
I know I’m not alone. Everyday these past few months, someone I know has passed, or someone I know has someone passed. Each loss overlapping each other, the pain clambering on top of the other, trying to reach for an opening or some sort of relief, only to be piled again by a new pain..there is a mountain now, created by these layerings, right on top of each other and its not stopping. I watch my son, as he grows up thousands of miles away from me, I miss him, I dream him, its been almost a year of video calls, photos, imaginary hugs and cuddles, I see him grow on my screen, layer 1. Straight into 14 days days in a cold hotel room without seeing the sky and the loneliness as thick as the walls and as loud as the empty silence, layer 2. I see my town die-ing, my island a ghost town, the economy flatlining, layer 3.. We lost you, amidst of all this bleakness , we lost you was layer 4. A few weeks after you left I got used to waking up without worrying about your suffering, you suffered for so long and for so many years that I find it hard to replace that worry with something else, layer 5. My partner left for an overseas trip , layer 6, it was just another veil of sadness that blanketed over, a month shy of 5 days since Mom’s passing, him leaving me was just that; a numb dull acceptance that this journey of loss is something I need to deal with alone, layer 7. I need to sort these layers out like laundry, dark colors, light colors, whites, fragiles , in the wash, by hand or dry clean..airing them out and then putting them away.
Time is your only friend or your favorite enemy.
I wake up each day and wait for new light, while I wait for the new light I’m sleep walking into each day. I’ve noticed a new leaf has grown, the kitten has climbed higher, I’ve lost 5 kg, that light bulb needs replacing, I baked my first bread, another Sunday has come and it feels like a Monday. “Give yourself time to grieve.” “You need to grieve” “Be thankful” “You have lots of time” “You have all the time” Time Time Time Time…it’s a gift , it’s a curse. I can’t figure what you are , Time, are you my friend or my favorite enemy?
Am I grieving right or have I even started?