Friday, January 2, 2009

Requiem for my Mom

It must have been a dream because you died yesterday.

You faced the ocean and the pink sky, fiddling with your camera. The pink t-shirt and pants were the ones you wore on our last trip to Marabut. You glanced at me and waved.


The cold of the dawn bit my face, and the hair on my arms stood. It was my idea to wake up at 5am to take pictures of the sea at sunrise. As I walked towards you, I felt the sands shift beneath my feet.

My feet hurt from walking around the hospital in uncomfortable white shoes. My clinical uniform was dirty, and 30 minutes before time off I wanted to scream. I had been in school since 8:00am, and now it was very late in the evening.

A thousand miles away, Mama was at the ICU with IV and heparin drip. When we spoke over the phone last night, she sounded weak as ever. She coughed a lot, and everytime she did, I closed my eyes and prayed.

“Please God, please.”

I tried to sound cheerful. I got 90% on my Cord Care PRS. Not bad Ma, right?

You said you were going to get better. You said they were going to move you to a regular room later that day.

Oh Ma, it hurts to see you like this.

Ted was also up, his hair unruly. My brother was shirtless despite the cold. He walked barefoot on the sand.

The surge of the tide washed gently on the shore. You were looking at the horizon, your face glowing from first rays of the sun.

“You never left, haven’t you?”

You turn to look at me and smile.

“Of course not.”

“I miss you.” I said, my voice breaking.

“I’m always here.”

The world seemed so silent, with only the sound of the waves in the background. My Mom was smiling at me. The kind of delight that lights up her eyes, much like a child whose arms are outstretched and face eager as she is about to be picked up by her parent.

The phone call. I knew what it was after the first ring. My heart pounded as I rushed to the living room.


Silence, then I heard someone breathing.



It was my brother, and he was crying so hard I could barely understand his words.

I sat on the couch. My brother said something but I didn’t hear anything. Tears welled up. So this was it- I never even got a chance to say how much I loved her.

Hours later, I would still be unable to move from the couch.

Then I was filled with grief, for I will never see you again in the waking world.

You wiped my tears with your hand.

“I am never gone because I’m always in the hearts of whom I love.”

You smoothed my hair, like you always did when I was very young. You always wanted us to be neat and clean, and people always remarked how well behaved we were.

“I had wanted to call you again after my duty, but I was so tired. I thought you’d be better. I have so much I need to say-”

For a moment I felt your hand, warm against my face. And you started to walk away. You turned and gave me a smile.

I looked for a trace of sadness in your eyes, but there was none.

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