Losing Dear Mother: Part 1

In 2014, my beloved mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer shortly after her 60th birthday. She was born in June, I lost her in July.

Given enough time, all wounds can heal and fade away.

I thought it would be good to share, thinking that maybe someone out there post can get something out of it after reading this post.

It was a really short time between the time she was diagnosed terminally ill to the time of her passing. My mother was a hardworking and compassionate woman. We would never have found out how ill she was if it was not for her left arm.

At work, she suddenly lost the use of her left arm; it just went limped and she could not lift it up at all. Even then, she continued to work until my aunt realised what was happening and rushed her to a hospital.

After spending a couple of weeks warded in the hospital, the doctors discovered that she had Stage 4 Lung Cancer. There were 2 tumors in her brain, one of which caused the temporary paralysis in her left arm.

In front of me, she appeared to take the results of her medical test rather well. One night, I overheard her talking on the phone with one of my aunts, in which my mother said in an off-handed manner, “Oh! It’s lung cancer.

I knew she must be petrified, but I did not want to unmask her. For her sake and mine, I acted like everything was going to be alright and she would be alright. We were just two frightened people, trying to put up a brave front for each other.

After the diagnosis, she got discharged from hospital. With measurements to fight the dreaded illness, we entered “Combat Phase”.

For the 2 tumors in her head, she had to go for radiotherapy sessions which I arranged time off from work to accompany her to every time. During that time, I had just switched to a new company, so I was grateful that they were kind enough to make the necessary arrangement for me.

We received a lot of support and encouragement came from family and friends. I combed the internet for news and articles on cancer; sharing every bit of encouraging information with my mom to keep her fighting spirits up. I realised how easy it was to fall for “miracle” treatments. Luckily, I managed to approach everything with a logical, level head.

All my free time was reserved for mother; her every wish was a command which I tried to fulfill. I would repeat every conversation with her in my mind, just to search for any hidden meanings or to note any important points. To make her as comfortable as possible, I was not just reacting but anticipating her needs.

Due to the radiotherapy sessions, she started losing her hair. Although she was simple woman, I reckoned that her hair loss would make her feel more self-conscious, so I decided to buy her a hat.

One night after work, I rushed off to shop for a nice hat for my mother. My working hours are long and by the time I knocked off, most shops would have already been closed. The shop which I found a suitable hat for my mother, was closing by the time I arrived; its gate was drawn down halfway. I remember begging the lady inside to do one last transaction with me.

It was bizarre how panicky I felt that night, I could have easily gone back the next day to make the purchase. I must have startled the shop attendant by how desperate I must have sound just to buy a hat. Perhaps deep down, I knew time was running out and everything that was needed to be done, had to be done without any delay.

That was the first and the last time I bought a hat for my beloved mother.

I was at work when I received a phone call from my aunt. She informed me that she visited my mother earlier that morning and found her to be really down and moody. After she hung up, I felt really uneasy so I took the day off and went back home.

With two packages of green bean soup (she loved green bean soup), I arrived back home to find her sitting in the living room, eyes closed as though taking a nap. I called out to her as I walked into the kitchen to put down the dessert. She did not respond to me.

Thinking that she must be in deep sleep, I gently called out out her again as I approached her. Again, I got no response. Worried, I reached out and grabbed her arm, only to find to find that it was cold and clammy with perspiration.

Immediately, I called for an ambulance and for a second time, mother was hospitalized.

I spent that night in the hospital. Since it was a women only ward, it would be inappropriate for me to be there in the ward with my mom. I am not a religious man, but sitting alone at that cold, dark waiting lobby, I found myself praying and making deals in my head with any higher power, hoping that my mother to pull through.

She did.

For the next few days, I have received many phone calls from the doctors who were placed in-charged of the ward for their shifts. Each time my phone rang, a sense of dread would overwhelm me. In their phone calls, the doctors would then remind me how severely ill my mother was, which I was painfully aware, then followed by same bloody question.

If her situation suddenly took a turn for the worse, do I want them to make it comfortable and easier for her or to take every invasive actions to bring her back?

On one hand, I cannot even begin to comprehend how much agony she must have felt; I did not want to prolong her suffering. On the other hand, I did not want to lose her especially when she was still ready to fight. I never did give any of them an answer.

Now that I really think about it, I am thankful to be able to spend a bit more time with her when she was clear-headed enough, in the hospital. It was so easy to lose her there and then, in the living room that day.

It was an afternoon when she left me. Things just moved from one thing to another. Being a complete wreck, I was only vaguely aware of what was going on around me. At one point, I got annoyed by all the silly, trivial choices I was made to decide when someone else could have easily make it for me.

Leave me alone! I just lost my mother! Let me grief!

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I design fine jewellery for a living.