Five years later feels like just yesterday

regrets-on-benchDear Mom,

I’ve been anticipating this date with so much dread and heaviness- February 10th. Exactly five years ago today, February 10th, 2015, you had fallen outside of your place and that eventually led to your passing away, a shock to all of us, including you, I am sure.

It breaks my heart everytime I think about it. And I know they say not to live in the past, but how can I not? That is where you were. And that is where I always want to be- with you. I think a part of me, a big part actually, is not here but either trying to find you or just gone whereve you are.

I break my heart over and over again thinking about what you might have done that morning, before your fall. I am so angry at the homecare worker who not only took you out for a walk to Shoppers Drug Mart to get some groceries, but who also made you walk back even though you said you were tired, wanted a cab, or even a bus, and she said, No, let’s just walk slowly back.

Mom, you hadn’t taken a bus for years and years. The fact that you asked for one- well, she should have realized that you weren’t able to make it home comfortably. That you needed a ride back. That you couldn’t walk more. It might have been a short walk for some people, but not for you- with your heart condition- and the osteoarthritis. I am sorry that I wasn’t more understanding about that myself on some days. I should have walked more slowly along side of you rather than skipping ahead, and I should have held your hand more.

But that day, I wonder about stupid questions. I don’t know if it is just to torture me and make me feel more guilty, or to just try to imagine myself being there with you and going through what you went through with you, as if that would somehow change things or make things better now. I imagine what you went to buy that day. I imagine what your plans were for later that day when you ended up in the hospital instead.

I wonder who the woman was that walked you and what happened when you fell. Did you trip over a step? Were you tired? And how did you hit your face and nose? And how could that stupid woman not have called an ambulance or reported the fall to her employer? That cannot be legal. That is not right! I am so angry still, after five years over this.

I want to see the couple who ended up walking by and finding you on the pavement bleeding, and who eventually called the ambulance for you. I want to meet the one out of the two of them- was it the man?- who let you rest your head in his lap while you waited for the ambulance. I wrote an article in the North Shore News asking if the people who helped you could come forward so I could personally thank them. I wrote the article after you passed away. I know you would have wanted to thank them.

Even though you hated hospitals, you were always so giving to strangers even there too. I remember how you wanted to buy a box of chocolates to give to the hospital staff while you were in the hospital. I was too worried and preoccupied to make it happen for you. I am sorry. I am sorry for so many things. The list goes on and on.

I am sorry that I wasn’t there with you that day when you fell. I am sorry I didn’t come to your place and drive you wherever you needed to go so that you wouldn’t have fallen. I am sorry that I didn’t stand up for you with the homecare woman and the whole company more after all of this to demand they do something about their total negligence. I did go to their office a couple of times to talk to the supervisors in a meeting they set up. But they blamed everything on my grief, on my emotional state. As if it was something I would get over and realize was not their doing.

But here I am five years later still angry as hell and so ashamed that I let the whole thing go. I know they were just scared because their big company’s reputation was on the line, so they through the blame on me and my grief. But I should have stuck in there with it more. I should have stood up for what I really believed. But I didn’t have anyone else on my side to back me up. I didn’t want money or to blame someone. I wanted justice enough to at least make sure this would never happen to someone else. I couldn’t bring you back, but maybe I could try to prevent another family from going through the same carelessness, and have the company take the situation more seriously. It was serious. You are gone. And I feel so ashamed, guilty, broken hearted and angry. I just didn’t know how to fight the fight on my own.

Mostly, I feel angry at myself. A friend of mine- a colleague I used to teach with- saw my article in the newspaper and reached out to me over Facebook to say she was sorry for my loss. And I eventully called the ambulance services and hospital to find out the names of the people who helped you get to the ambulance when the homecare person you were with didn’t. I seem to remember the ambulance service not wanting to give me full names or contact numbers of the couple who helped, probably just to respect their own privacy. So I never knew their full names or got to meet them in person. But the ambulance service assured me that they had passed on the message of eternal gratitude I wanted to send to them.

But I didn’t have the courage to do what I really wanted to- which was to fight for you and your rights. I know it is what I should have done. It was a lot to take on on my own. No one else seemed to see it like I did and I was scared to fight the fight on my own and try to go through the grief and shock I was feeling over losing you. But I know it would have been the right thing to do.

I am sorry that you ended up falling that day mom. I am sorry that you ended up in the hospital. I know you hated hospitals. I am sorry that things got worse, that you even ended up in the hospital over Valentine’s Day when there was a Valentine’s Day event you said that you were really sad not to have made it to.

I kind of hate Valentine’s Day now and these days leading up to it because of all that. Sometimes, I just see broken hearts everywhere on that day. How could I not when the person with the biggest heart, the person who brought me into this world and contributed the most to my loving heart, was scared, hurt, weakening, and in pain that day? How could I be excited about Valentine’s Day when you started getting even worse that day and I had no idea that that was going to be your last Valentine’s?

I think the homecare people who were not taking responsibility for their part in this thought that over time I would forget about it, that I let it go because it would become clear that it had nothing to do with them. Well, instead, the opposite is true. I am ashamed I didn’t stick with what I believe. And I am still angry at the awful way they handled, or really didn’t handle all of this. And you know what one of the worst things to live with is, Mom? Regret. I am full of regret over not going with what I believed was right and worth fighting for. It didn’t go away. It didn’t fade away.

I still feel like this all happened just yesterday. I remember every moment of it. I especially remember the things I didn’t do for you. It was like I was trying to make a million choices of things I thought would help- but I kept picking the wrong ones. And I thought there would be more time to explain and apologize once you got home. I just didn’t know that wouldn’t even be an option.

I am sorry, Mommy. I am sorry for not being there for you better. I am sorry that I made all these wrong decisions because I didn’t know how to juggle a bunch of things or I wasn’t clearly seeing what was most important, or because people were telling me I needed to go home and rest and that you would be fine. They were wrong. And I should not have listened to them. I should have stayed with you.

I wish there was some way I could fix it now. I wish that I could turn back time and turn things around. I still run through the scenarios in my head- of what I needed to do instead of what I did do. As if that could somehow magically undo what happened. I can’t change it. I can’t believe I am still telling myself this after five years. But I can’t help running things through my mind again and again. It doesn’t do anyone any good does it?Maybe I think I need to punish myself for my mistakes with you. But none of this brings you back or makes the past different. And that is something I have to live with somehow.

What would make it better, or what would help me let go of these regrets a little more, is if I knew you are okay now, that your spirit is soaring. I wish that you are now having beautiful Februaries with heavenly plans for Valentine’s Day that no one can ever take from you. I hope your heart and soul is filled with so much love and togetherness and peace and joy.

I hope that it is true that heaven can take care of you in ways that far surpass what we know here on earth. I wish the hearts in heaven are the most welcoming, beautiful, magical and healing and that they surround you and fill you with endless love.

 

Live Life

Dear Mom,

Again, I haven’t written to you here in awhile. It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes, I have so much to say. I don’t know where to start. And I think that it has to be something in particular. Something worthy of talking about or different than the usual just missing you.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it? I mean, that was the problem and now is.  That even when you were here, I thought I had to do something big for you in order to go visit. That I had to have some plan or have something in particular in mind. And when I didn’t, sometimes, I just decided not to visit, or I ended up visiting you, spending a lot of the time figuring what we “should” do, what I could do. But I was missing the point. There was nothing that had to be done or planned. I should have just been enjoying all the moments I had with you.  But I didn’t. I wasn’t fully present, or I had other things on my mind. Or I wasn’t a good listener. Or I thought that I needed to take you on the ‘necessary’ errands.

But all that was necessary was appreciating the woman in front of me. The only one I wanted to really put my time into. The most important person in my life.  And somehow, I missed that. And that is what is breaking my heart. There are moments where I remember being “with” you, like right next to you, but not taking it all in.

And the other day, I was driving over Lionsgate Bridge to head to North Vancouver. And I felt so sad that I couldn’t just pop over to your place and visit.  I felt so sad at the millions of opportunities I had to do that more, and I didn’t enough while I had the chance. And now, I have no chances left.

It’s hard to live with that.  I have tried to keep this blog more positive, and not always say exactly what I am feeling, in case someone else reads it and worries about me. I have tried to have a purpose to each entry, or a theme or a focus.  But, that’s not really how I thoughts come out when I talk to you.  It’s sometimes all a jumble of sweetness, regret, grief, fear, sadness, guilt and worry.  And I realize that the only way that I can really make use of this blog, of this opportunity to spill my thoughts on these pages, is to just say what is on my mind, on my heart.

It’s not really a blog for other people. Anyone can read it, of course. And I initially wanted it to be a record of memories of you that I could share with your granddaughters when they are older.  That they have something to read. But I hope that you and they will forgive me for making this also just a place for me to talk honestly with my mom, no matter whether the writing makes sense, is sad, or doesn’t really feel like it is going anywhere.

Right now, I need it as an outlet to just be with you, Mom. It feels different than writing in a journal to you, though I did do that often for the first couple of years or so.  Those words seemed to have gone into the pages and stayed hidden there. I am too scared to go back and read them. These words feel like I am letting them go somehow- like they are freer to soar and just maybe make their way to you through the internet, through the Universe, rather than tucked away in a book, in a box, under my bed, too closed for anyone or the universe to fully get a grasp on.

I went to a little craft fair today, near my place. All the vendors were selling handmade items like scarves and jewelry and soaps and even slime! Oh yeah, I still have to tell you about who in our family is crazy for slime.  I bought her a little for Christmas. I hope she likes it. I will tell her it’s also from you.  Although, maybe that’s not the kind of thing you’d want to give to your granddaughter. Don’t worry, I will choose a few other things that might be more up your alley to give to her.  The other little munchkin granddaughter has some cute things coming to her from me and you too. Don’t worry.  I just didn’t see anything that she’d really like at that place.

But you know who I always automatically look for gifts for? You.  No matter where I go, whenever I see some earrings or a nice sweater or shawl, or bracelets, I think, “Mom would really like that. Or that would look good on Mom.” I almost said that to one of the vendors today. But I didn’t want to confuse her or sadden her by telling her that my Mom is not here anymore.  Or maybe I just didn’t want to hear myself say it out loud because it would sadden me to say it.

Somehow, I will always be shopping for you, Mom. Even if I don’t end up buying the items, you are always still the first person I think of when I do most kinds of shopping.  You’re always at the top of my list. It’s going to be another tough Christmas without you.  I will make sure to buy or do something in your memory.

I did feel very sad  about it today, and I remember wondering what I should do about it. How to get through this slump that I am feeling. And then a car passed by me with the license plate LV LIF, or was it LIV LF or LIVLIF?

I tried to take a picture of it but I wasn’t quick enough. Was that you again, Mom, letting me know I need to get my butt going and just enjoy the life that I have? I hope so. Because that could mean that you are watching over us up there, and enjoying your heavenly days.

Love Tas

Navroz Mubarak, Mommy

Dear Mom,

It’s Navroz today. But of course, you would know that. You always knew the special dates of when our celebrations would happen. I miss all the copies of the calendars you would get for everyone, so that we could all keep track of the dates ourselves too. I’m sorry I never really made use of mine. I would do anything to get one directly from your hand right now.  I was so stupid to just take all of that for granted.

To be honest, I just never felt like I fit in there- in our celebrations or in the social events that were put on in our community. It just felt so forced, for some reason, on my part, I mean. Like either I didn’t fit in but had to pretend that I did. Or, I didn’t feel like I fit in, and acted very much like I didn’t. So either way, it was just awkward all around.

What I should have considered was how important these celebrations were to you. You just beamed everytime something came up on the calendar- a music party, a Navroz party, a mendhi party.  And THAT’S why it should have been important to me.  Oh, Mom. I should have just explained all this to you- how I just felt out of place, and like I was trying so hard to have fun at those things. At least you would have known why I wasn’t so enthusiastic about them. At least you would have known that it had nothing to do with you. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to spend time with you or go somewhere fun with you. It was that I just didn’t have fun at those events.

I felt judged for what I was wearing, what I was doing with my life, my career, who I was dating, or wasn’t dating. Why I wasn’t married or had kids yet. If I was there, I was just criticized for not being at those kind of events more often. And I was always trying to be on this health kick, but the food that was served was often the exact opposite of what I was supposed to be eating. So… I would get an upset stomach in addition to the upset I felt emotionally at all the gossip and hypocrisy that unfortunately seemed to come with those kinds of community events.

What I should have done is just ignored it, and concentrated on what was most important- spending time with my mom.  Gosh, if I could get those opportunities back, I would take you to any and every event that you wanted to go. And I would proudly accompany you. I might bring my journal or a good book, or sneak in some headphones with some good music or uplifting podcasts to distract me when people went around saying nasty, snobby, shallow things- haha ;-( but I would be there with you.

But I can’t get those moments back. And now, I don’t feel like attending those events even more because it seems ridiculous that I would choose to go now, after you’re gone. What made them special was that they were special to you. And you were and are the most special thing to me. It feels wrong for me to all of a sudden go out to them now, even if that is what you would have wanted. I would have wanted to turn back time and make it so that I used those events as an excuse to spend more time with you. But we never get a chance to make up for lost time, do we?

I wanted to tell you thank you, Mom, for bringing me up in a community that I know, for you, was a way to give me an extended family, and support. Thank you for giving me a community that I can reach out to even if I am in another country or continent- a community that would welcome me even if they didn’t know my name or we didn’t share the same home base. I know you wanted us to have a place to go to in times of struggle. A place and people to give us strength and a feeling of belonging.

I do see some very positive changes taking place in the community more recently. It seems that for the years I have not really been involved in it, there has grown a more open mindedness that I can resonate with much more. And the younger generation are pursuing all kinds of creative projects and careers in arts, music, media, and writing. This is great to see and maybe I will slowly find a connection to the community because of it.

But the bitter sweet part of all of it is that the most important aspect of it- my Mother- is no longer there for me to enjoy it with.  I even get a lump in my throat just writing those words.  Even though I didn’t show up at the ceremonies today physically, the special occasion has been on my mind and heart throughout the day. And I am grateful for you, my Mother, for giving us a faith that I know over the years will prove to be more and more needed and valued.

Thank you, Mom, for everything you have done for us. I cannot ever repay you, but I will try to make better use of all that you have given to us, taught us, and shared with us.

Navroz Mubarak.

Love always and forever, your daughter, Tas