This Is What It’s Honestly Like To Watch Your Mother Die


18 October 2015

My mother is dying. She was only experiencing a cough when the incredibly nervous doctor told us she had advanced lung cancer. Apparently, she had spent 10 years creating the fist sized tumor in her right lung. She lit up like a Christmas tree when checking whether the cancer had masticated,
so there’s nothing we can do anymore. This happened only a month ago.

So now the journey begins. Anticipatory grief they call it. I sometimes think it’s a blessing in disguise, giving us time to do and say and experience everything we still want. Sometimes, I think it’s just watching your loved one die, vanish, slowly saying goodbye to things that will never come back.

She doesn’t want to know the prognosis, so we’re just waiting. We’re waiting for the bomb to explode, for the moment when we can’t talk to her anymore, or she doesn’t have any good times left. It all feels so fragile, like watching a butterfly land in your hand, knowing any moment now, it will fly away. Just for that one moment though, you watch it, breathlessly, and in awe of its beauty.

Funny how beauty isn’t truly appreciated until it can be taken away from you. I never loved her the way I do now, never appreciated her, never needed her as much as I do now. It infuriates me that I wasn’t able to feel all that until now. It infuriates me that she needed to get sick for me to forgive her and let her be.

26 October 2015

I’m overwhelmed. So many stories to talk about but so little energy left in me to speak. Every precious moment I am in, I urge myself to write it down so that I don’t forget the magic. But in all honesty, I do forget them. There are just too many things happening. In between the churches, the graveyards, the wills, my own endless crying, the panic and her physical discomfort, my brain literally is overloaded with too many important memories. Maybe if I cling to the good, I’ll forget the bad ones.

It’s as if time sits still, and nothing else matters but us. Everything stops existing, and all I feel is the boundaries disappearing. There is no separation between her and me, a part of me is dying.

Today I heard my mother’s cry for life. The unimaginable sadness of having to let go of life itself. I was holding her unnaturally warm hand, as if her body was trying to put the warmth of the life she’s going to miss into what time is left. I see her pain, and it kills me that she has to do this alone and I can’t save her. I see the discomfort, the frustration, and her incredible ability to get up and try again. I feel so much guilt for going to my own home because I need to, instead of staying and helping her. She tells me she’s fine so that I’ll relax, but I know she’s just protecting me.

She cries for us, her kids. It is not only our loss, it’s also her loss. And that is incredibly difficult to wrap your mind around. I wonder if it feels to her the same way it would when a parent has to bury their children. Maybe not, maybe grief is reserved for those who continue living. Still, I cannot imagine what it must feel like when you have to let go of life itself, knowing the people you love will have to live on. She’s giving me so many last words, words of advice, life lessons.

She told me today to start writing them down.

She is telling me to let go of controlling, to give in with what is, to respect people where they are, to choose the life that makes me the happiest. To be my most authentic self, to be patient, to enjoy life, and oh yes, to make love on a waterbed.

By now, I havent slept more than a few hours a night since the diagnosis. I am so afraid she won’t be there when I wake up. Mom told me I was such a fool for robbing myself of sleep at this point. She told me to relax, she wouldn’t die tonight. There will be rough nights, but this is not one of them. She told me to allow myself to relax, and to accept what I cannot control.

Fear is the illusion of control. We think when we fear things that we can control them, that we have some say in the outcome. We think it protects us. Fear of losing my mother, albeit it very natural, is my way of hoping it won’t happen. How can I ever let go of that?

26 November 2015

I feel like I’m stuck in a movie. I feel like she already died and I get to walk into a life that doesn’t exists anymore. It’s as if I can crawl into the TV showing old family videos and walk around in a life that has been. My life, as I know it, is slipping away like sand between my hands.

The end is near. Extremely near. I can feel the angels descending towards earth to come and pick her up. She isn’t ready yet, and that’s my only consolation that it won’t happen tonight.

Moments like these demand prayer. So here it goes.

I dare pray to spare us this loss. I pray for a miracle. I naively continue to believe in recovery and I’ll continue that prayer until the day she dies. I can’t believe my moments with her are numbered. So many things to do and to say, yet when I’m with her, I fall back into regularity and comfort. I refuse to truly embody how rare the present moment is, how rare my moments are with her. I, the girl of words, can’t find them when I’m around her.

But, if we must lose her, I ask you to give her true bliss in her last few days on this earth. I ask you to give her some air, so she can be at ease as her body lets go of her soul. I pray she may pass peacefully and painlessly. I ask you to distill her the trust that her ending will be light and swift.

I pray to help me let go of my anger, towards everybody and everything that is happening. I ask you to help me let go of my guilt, because at some level, I think she needed to die because I needed to let go of her. I ask for all the guardian angels to support us through this. I ask for them to embrace my family in their wings, and protect us through every step. I ask mother nature, mother earth to watch us as we loose our own mother. I ask you to send us new mothers, to guide us, hold us, and love us.

I ask you to help me remember my mother, and my mother’s energy, for when I myself have children and must keep her legacy alive. I ask you to help me forgive her for all the memories she going to miss.

But foremost, I pray for light and love through what will be one of the purest moments of our lives, including hers.

2 December 2015

I was with her when she died 6 days later.

Even when you know death is coming, it surprises you, and nothing really prepares you for it. I had so many regrets not telling her the things I really wanted to say, not asking the questions I really wanted to ask, and not saying goodbye to her while she was still conscious. These things, although we knew death was coming, weren’t appropriate to do when she was still so full of life. The moment she truly accepted she was going to die, she wasn’t physically capable anymore to be part of my “To Do List Before Mom Dies”. It might be naive, but I really thought death would wait for all the profound words to be said. It doesn’t, so I am deeply grateful that she passed at peace with her own death, and that she hardly suffered.

Watching somebody die isn’t scary, or fearful, or sad. As my mom used to say, when somebody dies, the curtains of life are briefly opened. It resembled what I’d imagine witnessing birth might be like. The second she passed, I had this overwhelming sense that she was dancing, singing, rejoicing that she was finally free. She was born again.