“We never really knew her,” my cousin said as she stood next to me at the graveside. I remember thinking, “No you didn’t. None of you did. But I knew her. I KNEW HER. And I was not ready for her to go.
I had all these plans, all these things I wanted to do with my mother.”
As a workaholic adult, I took my mother for granted. My whole family did. I promised to take her to a naturopath who could help her arthritis in a natural way.
Because she was a true believer of natural healing. She used to take those bitter Chinese herbal drinks whenever she had the chance. And I was also moving in that alternative healing direction.
I also wanted to take her to Bali and other places that she would enjoy.
So when she passed away very suddenly at the age of 65, I was completely and totally devastated. I was too busy to visit her in the hospital earlier for her apparently minor health problems.
So when she was admitted to the hospital that last time in 1996, I was warned by my sister-in-law that it was serious: yes, yes planning to visit her that particular Monday at lunchtime because I was so very busy with work.
I am quite sure of the exact time of her passing. I was having breakfast at a coffee shop near the office. I took a mouthful of noodles and then felt very, very, very strange. It was a feeling I never felt before. A kind of subconscious “black” almost tangible foreboding that enveloped my whole body.
I stopped eating and headed back and the minute I entered the office, my dad called to tell me that Mummy had “collapsed.” Collapsed. He could not say it too.
Rushing to the hospital was a nightmare. When I got there, the elevators took too long, so I took the stairs. As I rushed through the corridor, I tripped but managed not to fall. What was I rushing for? That she would be alive when I got there?
At the entrance of the ward, I saw my younger brother staggering around in grief, weeping loudly. He put his head on my shoulders. I hugged him and then rushed to my mother. My father was next to her. I grabbed her hand and said there was a pulse. It was just my own traumatized pulse against her lifeless body.
My father said in desperation: “oh no, she thinks Mum is still alive.” I had not felt that pain before. It was literally like a sharp knife cutting my heart. It was so painful.
I kept asking her to come back. “Come back Mum. It’s not time to go. It’s not time to go. Come back”. From that point on, I knew, that there WAS such a thing as a soul and her body then was just a shell. “Where are you Mum? Come back.”
I am aware that “regret” is a wasted emotion and it is so easy to say that “logically”.
But in truth, I lived with that regret and pain and not forgiving myself for many years. It was only about fifteen years later that I healed through a family constellation session with someone who is still my spiritual mentor.
As I started writing this in the month of November 2017, I had just turned 65 myself, the age my mum left this earthly dimension. What I have written here is the first part of a story for a book on Mothers. I was asked to write three thousand words. So Mum, this is for you. I love you.
Jennifer Rodrigo is a Kuala Lumpur based freelance writer. Currently she is practicing for something totally outside her comfort zone. She will be the narrator for a mono drama performance in Jaipur, Rajasthan in February 2018.