I hate this quote that starts, “Those who died yesterday had plans.” I know it’s supposed to make us all stop and think and go out and do all those things that we want to do before it’s too late. Not to take life for granted as it says. But all it does is make me ache at the thought of all the plans you had that week or ten days you were in the hospital. And how I took all of that, and the idea that you would just be here longer, for granted.
It is so painful to think that that day that you woke up and went out in the afternoon with the homecare worker to get groceries, you had no idea that this is how it would all go. That you were going to fall such a painful and devastating fall, right outside your place and end up in the hospital. And even in the hospital, you had no idea that you were going to stay there, and never come home again. I can’t even believe I just wrote that.
I had no idea either, Mom. I am so sorry. The doctors and nurses were telling me that I was overreacting. That you just fell and had a nose bleed. But I had never seen you that way. Your face was all bruised and your hands and fingers were all scraped up. Your beautiful, newly painted nails all chipped. I can stills the plum colour of that nail polish in my mind. I can stills see and imagine your hands. And I still have that very nail polish bottle of yours. I just can’t seem to use it or let it go.
When I saw you at the hospital, Mom, I had to do everything not to break down in front of you. Even when I tried to kiss away the scrapes on your fingers, I remember you wincing because it was painful. Your nose didn’t even look straight and I saw the fear in your eyes when you discovered your tooth was loose and how you just ended up holding helplessly in your hand.
Each day, I tried to stay strong for you. I didn’t cry once in front of you.But God, I was crumbling inside. I even tried to accompany you to the bathroom in the hospital whenever you went in, so that I could block your view of the mirror. I didn’t want you to see what you looked like. I didn’t want it to make you feel weaker or more scared. But I still remember the moment when you looked and that look along with many others I had never seen before in your eyes just haunt me still. I will never forget them. I wanted to help you so much but I didn’t know what to do.
Valentine’s Day. I remember you said, “There was a Valentine’s Day party I wanted to go to. I didn’t have to go, but I wanted to go.” The words were spoken with such sadness. You just wanted such simple things. You wanted to just go out and meet people, enjoy the day, have another cup of tea at home while watching one of your Bollywood movies. You just wanted to live and “be healthy and happy always”. That’s what you wrote on the last medical assessment you had a few years ago in your apartment. It just melted my heart even back then. The first one you had written a couple of years even before this last one, had said something like, “I hate hospitals.” You really did hate them. I never understood why or how much until this time. And I am so sorry that I couldn’t help make your wish of being healthy and happy and out of hospitals come true.
Oh Mom. You had plans that week, those days, that life made you have to break. I know it’s not something that I’m supposed to say here, but this makes me so ANGRY at life, for ruining my mom’s plans. And what about the long term plans? I know you wanted to see your granddaughters grow, to have more cooking sessions with your eldest granddaughter, and to get to know and laugh with your youngest granddaughter more. You were probably waiting for me to finally find a guy and get married and have my own kids. You probably wanted to enjoy another dinner with your son and also have more holiday celebrations with your brothers and sisters again as well, even with the family drama or arguments that ensued sometimes.
The thing is that I will never know, no one will ever know, exactly what it is you wanted to do and achieve or see and experience. I can only guess, according to what I think you wanted. And I am so sorry I never asked you more about your dreams and wishes. Even when you tried to tell me where certain belongings of yours were or what you wanted me to do “once you were gone”, I just never wanted to talk about it. I couldn’t handle it, I couldn’t even bare the thought and somehow must have convinced myself that if we don’t talk about it, it will never happen. Like you will just be here forever.
But that’s not what happened. It just hit us all, including you, so suddenly. And just like that you were gone. I still feel sick to my stomach even writing those words. Or maybe it’s more like a huge lump in my throat that just never fully settles. It’s just always there.
I’m sorry I didn’t listen enough to you about your wishes- that I never asked how you would want it to be if you were in the hospital and things got really bad. How can a daughter have that conversation with such a loving mother that she wants to have around always? But in the not knowing, I wasn’t able to be sure what to do when it was happening, when we were told you weren’t going to make it. Did you want your whole family around while you were in the hospital bed? Would you have wanted to have gone through surgery even though they said it was very unlikely to keep you well or surviving? What were the words and sentiments you wanted to share with your siblings or nieces and nephews or friends? Who were the people you wanted me to thank on your behalf? Where did you want your furniture, clothes or dishes or spices to go? I know, it all seems pointless- those little things- that you can’t take with you anyway. But I wanted to know, I wanted to know we were making the right decisions. I wanted to know what you wanted. I just wanted to do whatever it is you would have most wanted.
I wanted to know, and maybe, you were always trying to tell me, but I closed the talks off because I was scared to hear about it. I was scared to talk about the possibility of any of it until it was too late. And then you couldn’t even talk, couldn’t even open your eyes, and I just thought, what have I done? What are we to do? What would Mom want? I will never truly know. And that is always going to be a huge source of pain in my heart.
Now I am left with so many questions, so much doubt, so many holes. All I needed to do to fill them was to ask you about them when you were here. But I couldn’t. I didn’t have the courage or heart to. And now, no one can really fill the holes. No one can tell me for sure. So I guess I am just left with this me that is different- different than before. A little more broken and tender and unsure about the why’s and how’s of life and death. I don’t get it, Mom. What were your thoughts about death and dying? What were your beliefs about it? I wish I had asked you. It may have settled my heart a little more. I don’t know.
You always told me that we should write things down. Write down what you went through, write down where we came from and what we’ve done. I’m trying to in my own way I guess. I can’t really fill the gaps of what I don’t know about your life or thoughts or plans or hopes. I can only imagine now what they might have been. But I am only imagining them from the point of view of who I felt you were. There was so much more to you than what we saw though. There always is in every person. But the person I wanted to know the most about was you. And now, I just feel an emptiness in the spots that no one else can fill, except you, my mother.
I know you tried to leave us notes- about where you were going during the day or what you were doing or where certain bills and documents and keys or sentimental safe keepings were stored. I understand why now. I mean, you lived alone and you never know. We just don’t know. I feel so sad that you had to ever think about that, on your own. I live on my own too. And I don’t even know. I could wake up tomorrow or not. And I could have plans that others may never know about if I don’t show up to life tomorrow or next month or next year. But, I don’t feel worried about me. I am still worried about you, what you had to go through, the sadness, the regret, the fear, the pain and not having any goodbyes. I wonder what that does to your heart and how much of a toll it takes on your soul. I hope it was not heavy, Mom. I hope that whole load and heaviness was taken off of you right away so all you felt was peace and light.
All I can do is pray. I don’t know what else to do. I have been trying to leave my own notes too, in away. I mean, I guess my journals are like huge, long term notes that have gone on for years. That’s really tough for someone else to even want to read. A lot of it is just me complaining or using writing as therapy, to get my thoughts out.
But lately, I’ve been leaving other notes- smaller ones- about where the car is parked, or where I’m going that day, or what my plans might be for the week or month. I also want to start writing some notes or letters to different loved ones – friends and family- to let them know how much they mean to me, what I want, what I believe in as far as the afterlife. Writing notes, … just in case, you know?
But also letters about what I have already accomplished, about their not having to worry about me if I don’t get a chance to continue with my plans. If God chooses to cut off my days sooner rather than later, I want family and friends to not wonder, to not be scared for me. I want them to be able to find things easily, and also for their souls and hearts to be at peace, knowing that I am at peace with whatever I accomplish thus far and with whenever I have to leave this earth.
And I don’t buy in bulk anymore. I remember when there were sales on hair products, or toilet paper, or food items or toiletries, I would stalk up, thinking I was saving money. Now, not so much. I just buy what I need for a short period of time. What’s the point of having a month or year’s worth of toiletries or make up, spending money on it, when we don’t even know if we will make it for that whole year or not? I just try to take each day as it comes now. And either way, I can’t complain. And no one should worry about me.
I mean, if I am meant to stay here, for a lot longer, I get to spend it with all of the people I love and I get to look forward to meeting the people I have yet to meet and learn from. And if I am meant to leave, then I get to be reunited with you and Mama- the best moms I could have ever asked for.
I am sorry that you were not able to carry through with your plans. You know that when it’s my turn to come ‘face to face’ with God, that’s the first thing I am going to demand of him- Why he ended your plans and life the way he did. And then, I’m heading straight to you. Nothing is going to break that part of my plans.