It is the eighth anniversary of my mother’s passing. I can’t believe it’s been that long; I can’t believe it’s that short. Some days it feels like such a long time ago, others like it was just yesterday.
I am okay. I am better this year than I was last year. Last year I was a wreck. This year I am calm. But I did stay up till the exact time of her death of 2:42am and bawled into my pillow. I said the prayer I’ve said for her since she died, several times until I fell asleep. Several times, in case I said it wrong or it wasn’t clear enough the first few times. The plan was to go to the cemetery this morning but I was too tired.
I still see her sometimes. In my mind’s eye, I mean. I see her in this house, still. It is strange to be living in a house that used to house another person who is no longer alive. Every corner holds a memory. She’s here but she’s not. Her things are still here – her shoes are all still here.
I can picture her in her bedroom. She’s cooking in the kitchen with the radio on. I hear her singing along to an old Malay song.
I see her in the armchair in the living room. It wasn’t her favourite chair or anything. But I clearly remember her sitting there after her shower as she waited for me to change her bedsheets for her. She was too weak to do it herself. I can’t remember when this was exactly, either late August or early September. I had never changed her bedsheets for her, because you don’t really have a reason to change your parents’ bedsheets for them, do you? Later as I lotioned her legs I noticed how much weight she had lost. My mother, in better health, was rather plump. Now her cheeks were hollow, her shoulders bony. She moved slowly. She spoke softly. I finally admitted it to myself: my mother had terminal cancer.
Over time the crushing, heavy pain in my heart has become a dull ache, but if I think too hard, the grief is all new again. It’s a permanent part of my being now.