Now you’re not here anymore, the emptiness lingers all around me

The moment you left arrives and is gone instantly

 My mother, my love, went through so much during her 6-month cancer journey. No one could have ever prepared me for the final stages — no doctor, nurse or textbook step by step guide. I often wondered how we came around at a full circle. The first stages were those of hope that maybe we could combat this – then came the final stages when the doctors gave the definitive diagnosis – end of life care. I remember vividly leaving the ward on that day – it was just before my birthday. We were in the furthest room from the usual spot mum was regularly admitted. I stared at the reception area and recalled the many days I walked up and down that corridor. Some days in tears, some with mum by my side, taking a walk and chatting. How did we come to this – I ask God. Six months had passed, yet I recall each moment as if it happened yesterday. As we left that fateful moment, I realised this was the very last day we’d be here – that our time had ended – just like it had for many other people before us and after we would leave. It sent a chill through my body and left an ache in my heart. The weeks progressed with mum slowly deteriorating. My eyes would well up in tears when I saw that she could no longer feed herself, hold a cup or even wipe her mouth. We struggled daily getting her up from the couch to the bed. The walk to her bathroom became a 30 to the 40-minute effort — leaving her exhausted. Every step of her deterioration left us more and more hopeless. The nurses will tell us that this is the process of when life ends. Slowly, the body begins the process of eliminating those everyday tasks we take for granted. Then the person becomes bedridden. I would cry, watching this take place in a matter of days, I would wonder why we suffer so much — and why illness can have such an impact as to take over everything that gives us dignity as human beings. That we are succumbed to having others perform the tasks we once relished on our own Independence is lost as cancer takes over. I would apologise, telling her I was sorry that it came to this. That my sister and I were struggling to lift her and that we needed help. As she moved towards becoming unable to speak, I slowly forgot the sound of her voice. I would take videos of her talking with me during her early diagnosis, yet I don’t quite dare to listen to them. Likewise, I saved all the voice messages she left on my phone during the last few years. Oh mum, how I miss you. I will never forget the moments your breathing slowed down and became softer and softer until they became no more. I held your hand, touched your face and cried. “I love you, mum; you did good for us – I’ll miss you.” The pain that followed came with a sense of relief mixed into one. You were not suffering anymore, but the suffering was left for us to mourn your death. To remember you and the cancer journey we took together. As I look at the flowers on your windowsill, the last ones you stared at before your eyes closed, I told my brother how special they are. “Mum looked at them for the last time, mentioning how beautiful they were.” He took them as a memory of her. Those memories flood my mind, warm my heart and break it at the same time. It’s still new, It just happened, and I don’t know what life is like without her. I pray that she’s in a place where there is peace, serenity and love. Rest in peace, mum. You will always be my true love and my everything. I hope that you can look down knowing that your two daughters did everything they could, right up until the end – just as you wanted.

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