It’s June, and I’ve already lost three people. Two to death; one to life.
Death is much easier to accept. At least they couldn’t help it and you know there is no coming back from it. Losing someone to life is abstract and riddled with what-ifs and maybes and hopefullys – down to the last second. Until holding on becomes more painful than letting go. Then cue Cheryl Strayed: “Acceptance is a small, quiet room.” Cue Rumi. Cue Rachael Yamagata’s entire discography.
I took a real beating. A kick in the stomach. I was down on my knees. I could barely stand. Defeated, I did the only thing I knew would give me solace. I took out my prayer mat. I cried many tears into that mat. I made supplications I had never made before, and I felt an instant relief I had never felt before. But it doesn’t end there. It’s an ongoing process, as it should be.
My yoga mat is the other mat I started taking out more regularly. If the prayer mat is for my heart, then the yoga mat is for its physical encasement. Hatha yoga invigorates me, whilst yin yoga teaches me to find calmness in keeping still.
I discovered Yasmin Mogahed. She was sent as a tool to steer me back to the right path. She fed me verse after verse until it got through to my thick skull. Accept, even if you don’t understand. Nothing is an accident. You are exactly where you are supposed to be. If something is taken away from you, it is for your own good. And know that it will be replaced with something greater. You are going through a purification. Yes, it hurts, but trust the treatment. Pain never comes without a purpose.
And over and over and over and over again.
I can’t claim to fully understand now. But I’m beginning to see where I went wrong and why things happen the way they do.
It’s not okay, but it will be.
I’m not okay, but I will be.
The last few months I’ve been really happy.
The last few days I’ve been really sad.
To everything, there is a season.
We bandied confessions, tears, forgiveness, reassurances and hopes
in between sleepy good mornings and sleepier good nights.
We showed our feet
and our food
and uttered familiar names of people and places.
As usual I become your dictionary/thesaurus and I’m only happy to.
Your laugh, that hair, your hands, and mine.
It’s like you never left.
We cleared out the grey; everything is clear now except
Picture Guy has resurfaced, calling me “my dear”, and bearing apologies/problems/questions. Considering I last heard from him nine months ago, I’m surprised and thrilled, but mostly? I’m furious. I want to tell him to go fuck himself. I’ve got no time for him. I don’t care about him. I no longer want him in my life. But those would all be lies. I could never bring myself to say those words to him anyway. Besides, wouldn’t embracing him be easier? Wouldn’t falling back into our old routine be easier? I wouldn’t have to miss him anymore. But three days since his first hello and I’m still trying to decide if no longer missing him would be worth the heartache when the conversation eventually stops.
My mother. She died. I’ve known this for 12 years. But knowing is one thing. Suddenly realising is another. This realisation hit me suddenly, for the hundredth thousandth time yesterday, and for the hundredth thousandth time, it broke me.
I don’t know when, but dad transferred mum’s clothes from one section of the wardrobe to another, and now I can’t find her favourite light green nightgown with the frilly sleeves. I asked dad do you remember her light green nightgown with the frilly sleeves, how could you forget it, she wore it all the time. He said no. I said is there a possibility you might have thrown it away. He said yes. So last night instead of sleeping, I cried and cried and cried.
This morning, surly from the lack of sleep and from remembering why, I made small talk with my colleague who just returned from spending all of last week in Belgium visiting her parents for her mum’s birthday. She said she had a great holiday, her mum really enjoyed having her home, and when it came time for her to leave, complained that it was too soon – “You know how mums are.” Do I? My memory of “how mums are” is quite blurry, seeing as the last one was from 2004, but I said, “Yes, I sure do,” as one should, and then proceeded to cry upwards at my desk all day.
So…it’s been one of those days. My mum being gone will soon return to being background noise. But for now, I’ll let it take centre stage.
And just like that, 12 years have gone by.
The mirrors haven’t reflected her face for 12 years now.
Her frilly light green nightgown hasn’t been worn for 12 years now.
Her hijabs haven’t touched her hair for 12 years now.
I haven’t touched her for 12 years now.
I had this thought recently. I’m five years slow in realising this – I don’t know how it could have taken me this long – but she hasn’t lived in this house longer than she ever did. We moved here in 1997; she passed away in 2004. That’s seven years of presence versus 12 years of absence. And yet she is still in every corner. There is nowhere I can look without seeing her in my mind’s eye.
I never wrote about this, but this time last year I was in Waterford, Ireland, and after writing a post about it being the 11th year, I was drifting to sleep and felt someone hugging me from behind – spooning me, really. I instantly knew it was my mother. After all, having her be the big spoon was one of our favourite activities – yes, even when I was as old as 19. I heard her voice say, “Don’t turn around. I’ll just hold you.” But I wanted to turn to look at her anyway. I pushed, and was met with resistance. She cautioned me again not to. But I didn’t listen. I pushed hard as she raised her voice: “I told you not to!” She dug her long fingernail into my back as punishment and of course, I was able to turn my neck fully around and…she wasn’t there.
I don’t know if I was awake and she really came to visit, or it was a combination of lucid dreaming and sleep paralysis, but my back did hurt a lot from where she had pressed her fingernail.
I’d like to think it was her though, coming all the way to Ireland to comfort her crying child.
So in an unexpected turn of events, not one but two friends I haven’t talked to in a few months because they revealed themselves to be jerks have extended an olive branch to me in the last 24 hours. One to wish me Eid Mubarak (immediate internal reaction: “Thanks but…ok”) and the other, to ask me to check out the Israeli Film Festival together (immediate internal reaction: “FUCK YOU” and “Ooh, I didn’t know it was on”.)
In case it isn’t obvious, I’m not too thrilled by these olive branches. I actually don’t even like olives? I wanted to reject them both. I’m not angry anymore. I’m just not interested. Still, I decided to wait several hours so I wouldn’t say something I’d regret. I eventually decided on “Eid Mubarak to you too. Hope you had a good Eid” and “Thanks, but I won’t be in SG” respectively. (Not a lie. I’ll be in Vietnam next week. Story for another post.)
“Mine was just ok,” said one. “Oh, where are you going?” said the other. The first one may or may not have been bait for me to enquire further; the second clearly demands an answer/further interaction.
I haven’t responded to either. Maybe I don’t want to? But I also don’t want to be a dick? We were good friends when we were friends. But I’m also not ready to make nice. But if I wait to be ready I never will be. But…
I don’t know what my next move is so I’m sitting here being passive-aggressive and bellowing to the Dixie Chicks.