Whoever said that stones and sticks may break your bones but words will never hurt you, could not have been more wrong. The three hardest words that I have ever had to utter were “mom is dead”. I cannot begin to describe the utter desolation and devastation I felt as I called the rest of my family to let them know that mum had passed on.
God had answered my prayer and mom had not passed away alone in a hospital but at home with people who loved her. Yet all I could think about is that I would never see her again, or hear her talk. The last few weeks before her death we had watched my mother deteriorate from a vibrant independent person to a silent form laying in bed dependent on a nurse to turn her every two hours and being sustained by a drip.
She had fought valiantly, but now the battle was over. Before mom’s illness I knew very little about cancer and its devastating effects not just on a person’s body but also on their psyche and the psyche of those that loved them. Like everyone else I had heard about cancer and knew a few people who had died from it, but these incidences sounded far removed and I had never had to stay with a patient before.
Looking back I shudder to think how glibly I uttered condolences to those who were bereaved and how easy it was to assume I had any idea of the devastation caused by their loss. I have since learnt that the best gift you can ever give a person who is grieving is your presence and silence; and if you are not close to them, your distance.
I remember one disturbing incidence with a lady who claimed to be my mum’s best friend. None of us had ever seen her before or knew her from Adam, she was in reality a friend of a friend. She was all over our business like a bad rash and on the day of the funeral tried to get her five moments of fame on the podium. It was highly offensive, yet such is life.
There will always be scavengers. Yet I remember more the pleasant surprise as my siblings and I realized that my mom’s existence had blessed so many others. At her memorial people stood to share how she had helped educate their children, pay their rent and medical bills, lend an ear, open her home.
It was amazing: people we had no clue about stood and gave tearful testament of what my mom had meant to them and the difference she had made in their lives both physically and emotionally. The greatest lesson though that I am learning in this is to seize the moment. Life is full of uncertainties, twists and turns. Live every moment. Now I realize that I don’t have all the time with my children, husband, relatives or friends.
I am learning to appreciate the time I do have with them and to de-clutter my space to accommodate more time with them. Prior to my mum’s illness my life was filled with many people who were merely occupying space. Our relationships were mutually unbeneficial. Now I am more selective, not just with my relationships but also with my time and energies.
Since my days are numbered, figuratively speaking, I want to ensure that I live each moment well; only then will I be able to achieve my life mission – to seize every moment and make it count for eternity. This is what my mom did and so even though physically she is gone, her legacy lives on in her children and in the lives of those she touched.