Since young, I have always been really close to my mother. Losing her so suddenly, left me utterly devastated.
All I could think of was how unfair life treated her.
Whenever, I saw a elderly woman who is around my mom’s age, looking all blissful with her family members surrounding her, I would feel a pang of jealously, angry that I could never share the same kind of joy with my mother again.
Months following her death, I found myself hanging out in the old neighbourhood where I spent my childhood. I would wander around the old market, reminiscing about all the time I accompanied mother for grocery shopping. Almost all of the shops have changed, the people moved on, but I sought for the comfort of just being there.
I would return to the void deck of our old apartment block, where I would just sit around for a while to enjoy the quiet warmth of the lazy afternoon breeze. As much as I could, I would try to recall and savor every single memory of my mother.
All the people who had interacted with my mom and places she had been to, became very important to me. It is through these people and places, that I can still share a link with her.
It is simplest of things that you miss the most once they are gone.
What I am missing the most, is to call out to her whenever I came home, “娘! 我回来啦!” (Mom! I’m back!) and her usual cheerful reply “孩子! 你回来啦!” (Child! You’re back!)
Now, home is just so much emptier.
Pictures and videos of her became so precious to me, that to avoid ever losing them, I have saved copies of them in 3 different drives. Now that I took a look at my meager album, I find it to be pitiful. It is my greatest regret that I do not have more to remember her by, especially videos of her.
Among my priceless album of pictures and videos of my mother, the one I treasured most, is a video with her laughter captured from the moment as she joyfully watched my nephew, a toddler then, learning how to walk.
It has been 3 years now.
I still go back to my old neighbourhood every once in a while, just not as frequent anymore. It is not as painful anymore, but she is always on my mind.
One little thing that I do is that whenever I visit her in the columbarium, on the small space in front of her niche, I would place those japanese erasers, which are shaped like various kind of food, as a form of offering to mother.
In my culture, it is common to pay respect to the dead by burning paper gifts which are made to resemble real life goods. While my “gifts” are not exactly traditional, but it is just something that feels right for me to do.
The erasers add vibrant colours to the otherwise dark and gloomy columbarium. I also find that the cuteness of the erasers’ nature suits and matches my mother very well. It is not very much different from bringing flowers, just on a more intimate level.
I was changed, for the better or worse, by my loss.
A lot of things which bothered me before, seems so trivial now. I also find myself to be more more dauntless and able to better focus on my life goals.
To be honest, I am clueless on how to properly conclude this 3-part story of my personal journey of loss, grief and recovery, but thank you for joining me.