Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Lim: Afloat

MY mother believed in preparation and she trained all of us, to always be prepared. So from the moment of diagnosis, my siblings and I sprung into action. The obituary, however, was something I could not bring myself to write till after she had actually passed.

Somehow, I could not bring myself to begin. I could not bear to see the words on my screen. It almost felt like I would be killing her if I actually typed the words on my keyboard. And so I didn’t.

So many times I thought I was ready but I was not.

I would pray, “Lord, let Mama go quietly and peacefully. Let her go when she is ready.” The next day, however, I would shamelessly backtrack, “Lord, not yet. Not today, please. I’m not yet ready.”

But the following day, I would redeem myself, “Lord, I’m sorry for being weak and selfish. Let Mama go when she’s ready NOT when I’m ready. Don’t wait for me.”

I heard it many times before that no matter how you prepare, you can never really prepare for the actual end. It doesn’t matter how long they ail or suffer. There is a part of you that will hold on to them till the very end. And it’s true.

You are enveloped with a sense of relief immediately after they pass and their pain ends. But in the aftermath of the deluge of love and condolences that come your way, you go home to a house—missing someone you love.

It is not the same. But you know life has to go on.

There is this blanket of melancholy that wraps you in the days that follow. In your quiet moments, your tears fall. You are both happy and sad. Happy that the person you love no longer suffers but sad for a host of reasons too many to count and too sad to list.

My mother passed away. I practiced saying this—weeks before my mother actually passed. I practiced saying it because I knew that eventually, I would have to say it. And I would have to say it with the grace my mother would have expected me to have.

They say that grief is like the ocean. It comes in waves.

There are days when you feel like drowning, when all you can do is still the pounding of your heart, focus on keeping your head above water and remember that the average density of the human body with air in the lungs is less than that of water. So, theoretically, if you remain calm, you will float.

It’s a survival technique. Mind over matter. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. But it will have to work this time—because it’s the only way to carry on.

My mother instilled in me the value of preparation. And so I have braced for life’s losses and heartbreaks since I was a child. I may not be a strong swimmer but I know I will survive life’s currents because this is what my mother trained me to be all my life—to be a survivor.

I will not drown. I will stay afloat. My mother believed in me. I will not fail her.


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