Lim: The message

Wide awake

I ENTER my mother’s enclave. I’ve been here a few times since she passed but only to do what’s necessary. I cannot look at my mother’s stuff and not miss her. Yes. Still.

In two weeks, she will have been gone for three months. But when you wait with bated breath every day for a message from your mother, three months seems like three lifetimes.

My mother has a little office inside her walk-in closet. I’ve been here previously to sort her stuff but only in a cursory manner. I couldn’t linger. One day, I tell myself, I will be stronger. But I have a task to do today.

As I open the drawers, I can’t help but smile. Her inventory of office supplies rivals mine. I find lots of notebooks. I’m not surprised. My mother is very organized. She keeps lots of lists—important dates, phone numbers, addresses, medications, menus, gifts.

As I start opening the notebooks, however, I am surprised to find that some of them are filled not with lists but with my mother’s thoughts. Our passion for writing comes from my mother. Though unpublished, she is the original writer in the family.

But I didn’t know that my mother had been writing. She writes about her family. She writes about her siblings. She writes about the father she never knew because she lost him when she was only four. She writes about her mother mostly.

“My greatest lesson after her loss is this—that you don’t realize the full extent of your love until she is gone forever.” My mother quotes Gabby Singson who writes about his wife’s passing.

My tears begin to fall. My mother has quotes about life, marriage, parenting, old age, suffering, death. She left us recipes, etiquette rules, reminders, lessons in life.

There are no dates. I don’t know when my mother wrote all these. All I know is that if she chose to leave us these pages filled with her thoughts, ideas and favored quotes, she must have meant for us to read and learn from them.

I begin to sob. How can I think that my mother has ignored me? She speaks to me every day in so many different ways.

The other week, I desperately wished for my mother to come to me in a dream—to tell me that she’s okay, to tell me that she forgives me, to tell me that she wants me to move on and be happy.

I sleep well that night. But I don’t dream of her. When I wake up, however, I get a message from a friend in Canada. The first words of her message read, “I had a dream...”

My friend is baffled why she dreamt of my mother when she hasn’t been thinking of her. “I think my mother is sending me a message through you,” I tell her.

I have openly despaired about my mother completely ignoring me. My mother, on the other hand, has been surreptitiously trying to tell me that I don’t need to dream of her—because every day, she is with me.

She’s here. Finally, I get the message—loud and clear.


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