Lim: Not the best daughter

Wide awake
Melanie Lim.
Melanie Lim.File photo

I was not the best daughter. But I had the best mother. The tragedy is that I never realized it until I could no longer tell her.

I am racked with guilt. Yes. And it’s been six years. Until now, I wish I could turn back the clock and change things. But I said that before when she became ill—that I would change. But I didn’t. When she recovered, I stayed the same.

I suppose God was left with no other recourse but to take her away from me—permanently. I have finally learned my lesson—the hard way.

I had a friend who lost his mother when he was an infant. He said he didn’t really know what it was like to have a mother. He said he couldn’t relate to Mother’s Day. I remember thinking that in a sense, he was lucky because he would never experience the excruciating pain of losing a mother.

What he never had he would never miss.

But what he said bothered me. I couldn’t decide whether his not having a mother was an enviable or tragic thing. Shortly after our conversation, he passed unexpectedly so now, I no longer worry because they are together in eternity.

When my mother died, something died in me too—all the rage and resentment I harbored from my childhood.

I loved my mother but I resented her for many things. All the times she didn’t hear me. All the times she did the wrong thing. All the times she was unable to protect me. All the times she didn’t see my pain.

I was angry. I was hurt. But I was wrong. I know now. Only, it’s too late. She did the best she could under the circumstances. She wasn’t perfect. She was just trying to raise six children. She was just trying to keep a marriage. She was just trying to survive.

But I always knew that. I just didn’t have the humility to forgive her for her shortcomings. And yet, she loved me even with my acid tongue, hard heart and belligerent attitude. So, now, I live with the pain of guilt and regret. But I will gladly suffer through this pain for the rest of my life if it will remind me to live the remaining days of my life differently.

I would call myself a just rather than merciful person but after my mother passed, I had to rethink my convictions. I think back to the many moments when my mother would hold back on giving others what they deserved—because while she valued justice, she valued mercy more.

On the receiving end of rage, she would stay silent. When hurt, she would not hit back. Instead of thinking up ways how to get even, she would pray.

My mother did not give me what I deserved. She forgave me. She loved me despite all my faults and failings. She was not just. She was merciful. Hope is what keeps me going that one day, I can forgive myself for my shortcomings and that each day, I can be a better human being.

I am still not the best daughter. But I realize now that I don’t need to be the best. I just need to be better.

Happy Mother’s Day, Ma.


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