The thing about death is that you can’t prepare for it. More often than not, the devastating feeling of the bond you’ve lost comes when you least expect it, even before you can say your last goodbye. It happens before you can tell the person you love everything you’ve ever wanted to tell them because you always thought there would be a next time.
For me, it was three months ago when I found out my mother was no more. I wasn’t even by her side that day because I thought she would bounce back to good health the way she did after the first two heart surgeries she had undergone.
But this time was different. This time, she didn’t make it. She passed away half an hour after my father lay a kiss on her forehead and held her hand, as life slowly ebbed away from her body.
I tried to keep it together. But the moment I was at her funeral and I watched her body being lowered into the ground, I felt the crushing pain. It doesn’t matter how old you are; when the pain of losing a mother hits you, you can’t stop the flood of despair that threatens to take over you.
As my mother was being buried, all I could do was watch as my best friend, my confidante, and my pillar of strength lay in her coffin. I can’t remember a single moment in my life where I needed her and she wasn’t there. Today, it pains me to think that maybe I didn’t show my love enough and maybe I didn’t spend enough time with her.
I know that raising me wasn’t easy. I regret slamming the door as a teenager when she was trying to give me valuable advice. She would drive me to school no matter how busy she was just so that she could spend more time with me, but I regret making her feel like she embarrassed me in public. As I grew a little bit older, the same advice that I used to run away from were the words that gave me strength; that’s when I was ready to admit, “Yes, mamma knows best”.
When I started working, I remember all the phone calls I got from her which I ignored or avoided, thinking my work was more important than a 2-minute conversation with her. But there was not a single time when she didn’t pick up my call. Whether it was to ask how to cook spaghetti or how to pay my taxes, she would pick up every single call and patiently tell me.
I even remember that time when I got my heart broken by my first love, I called her up in the middle of the night, and within a heartbeat, she dropped everything and drove all the way, just so that I would have a shoulder to cry on. And then she knew exactly what I needed to hear to make all the pain go away.
Today, being a mother myself, I’m finally getting to know what unconditional love is, and that’s what my mother had for me, too. When I had my first daughter, I only had to ask my mother once and she was ecstatic to move in with us for a short while. I have no idea how she took care of a baby on her own because I couldn’t have done it without her.
I always had her right by my side through every new chapter that I began in my life, including my entry into motherhood. There was no pain that the warmth of her hug couldn’t erase. But her funeral, the most unbearable day of my life, forced me to accept that I could no longer throw my arms around her and forget about all my worries.
I wouldn’t wish that she was here with me for longer because I know that would be selfish of me. Wanting her to stay longer would mean making her suffer for long and I would never want that. But if I could change one thing, it would be the day she passed away. I would wish to sit by the side of her bed, the same way she did every single day when I was sick, praying beside me because she couldn’t bear to see me in pain.
My only source of comfort is knowing that she’s no longer suffering, knowing that she has joined her Maker in heaven is probably smiling down at me from there.
I love you Mom. Nobody can replace you.