5 Things I learnt during lockdown, caring for my dying mother

With a mother dying of pancreatic cancer and kidney disease,  a lock-down in a place struck me right in the heart.

 It’s now lockdown for the second time here in Sydney. The devastating effects of the new strain have caused chaos in and around neighbouring suburbs — placing vulnerable people’s lives at risk. There is no greater fear than a contagious virus spreading like wildfire, which could easily attach itself to someone that’s already struck with disease and cancer. Nothing could have ever prepared me to diagnose my mum’s condition, let alone the overwhelming fear that perhaps something else could go wrong. Perhaps staying in may suffocate most people, but thankfully I’m fond of spending moments indoors, as I enjoy writing, studying or cooking something delicious in the kitchen. I love taking many leisurely walks in the outdoors, with the sun beaming its rays onto my skin. It’s winter, and the sun penetrates through my many layers of clothes. It’s a glorious feeling of warmth and a sunshine hug. As I take a short stroll with mum in the sun, she’s struggling to talk. I tell her that she doesn’t need to say a word & enjoy those moments of sunshine bliss. What a beautiful day it’s turned out to be. She’s also in awe of it’s beauty. It’s moments like these when forced to narrow down to the simplicities of life; I consciously focus on how beautiful these walks in sunshine with her can be. 

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”– Confucius

 And that we do — I do this one so well, making everything so complex when it doesn’t need to be. This has been my major challenge. I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learnt during this pandemic and looking after my beautiful mum. To anyone going through this, I feel your pain, hurt and heartbreak. There is a light awaiting, and don’t forget to catch those speckles once in a while. 

  1. Seeing your mother, my last parent left on earth, dissolve every day is one of the most painful experiences. There are moments you cry, and other times you cannot even feel a thing — you keep moving through with numbness in your body. Perhaps that’s a way to cover up the never-ending ache that’s in your soul.
  2. Your life has a way of turning around wholly — in the blink of an eye. I remember vividly coming home from work and seeing mum in my kitchen, looking quite ill. She said that her test results from the doctor were not good — and that is the moment I cried because I knew that life would never be the same — and that the day would come when I’d lose her. As much as we know that anything can happen to us, it’s not something we have in the back of our minds. Our family is precious, and anything external to that doesn’t have a place for worry in our lives.
  3. Being confined to your home or that of a loved one cuts your ties with energy-zapping activities. These activities take our focus and concentration — we don’t allow ourselves time (hours or days) to think — really think about what we want and who we would like to become. It almost feels like a relief, and now we can’t flush the time for self-reflection out the window. It’s time to face the music playing in your head.
  4. As a fitness enthusiast, I speak highly of having a healthy lifestyle. It is something we must make a high priority. At times, we seek instant gratification in the unhealthy lifestyle and foods we eat. This could very well cause us a lot of pain in the future -such as become a catalyst for disease and cancer. It’s not a complete preventative, but isn’t it comforting knowing your body has a better chance to heal when in a healthy state?
  5. Despite what all friends and colleagues say, no one will ever know what the future holds. I know that I’m going to be in a lot of pain, for an extended period, when it’s time to say goodbye to my mum. Sometimes I can’t even find the words to express how I feel. I’m eternally blessed that God has given me months to be of service to my mum and have spent some loving and joyful moments with her.

As hard as this has been, I have managed to keep a level head and move closer towards my goals — even though it may take a lot longer than I initially planned.

  1. Working has helped switch my mind to what is going on during the present moment and gives me hours of inner turmoil relief.
  2. Having a good laugh with friends is a great way to break your current state.
  3. Writing has been the potential catalyst for spilling out my feelings and releasing them from being hidden inside.
  4. Walking several times a day to break my state and listen to audiobooks fill my mind with positivity. It has become my meditation.

Napoleon Hill mentions that in all setbacks and heartbreaks, there is a seed of an equivalent benefit. Slowly I’m coming to see that there always is — if we look for it. 

“Never again will I make the simple into the complex. Something of true value does not become more valuable because it becomes complicated. Experience and conditions come and go; complications arise and fall away, but the simple act of God is eternal in the universe.”— Donald Curtis

 Suffering does end, and a new phase in our life begins.Even though I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet, I know that I will have to let go eventually — and that it will be ok. It will hurt, but I will be ok

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