It was a routine procedure. The doctor had assured me, the night before. He told me not to worry.”Your mum will be out of surgery in no time”. That day was anything but routine.
The last quarter of that year had been blighted by series of hospital stays, health challenges you tried to shrug off; challenges that hung over us like a dark curtain. I didn’t see it coming, none of us did. You were our oak. The strong beautiful tree that cast her branches for our shelter. The one whose strong roots gave us stability, our quiet place of abode. And so, when my oak began to quake, in denial-I refused to see the signs.
The night before the surgery, I arrived late…..visiting time was almost over. We exchanged kisses and I started to tell you about my day. You seemed strangely disconnected, pensive, as if your mind was else where. After a bit of small talk, you handed me your bible and told me to read to you Psalm 109. My stomach started to knot with fear. The contents disturbed me. Funny thing though, when I was done you seemed more cheerful, more connected. When I bent over to kiss you goodnight, the strange disconnect had descended, again.
The following day, I had an important board meeting but all I thought about was getting to the hospital. Hoping I could shake the feeling of unease that had enveloped me from the night before. It was a miracle I made it there in one piece considering I drove like a bat out of hell. You were already in surgery, and so I stayed with Daddy; both of us not speaking. I was speaking to God, making deals attached to your safe and full recovery. ‘I will be a better person, I will……I will……’As if a person’s destiny cannot be truncated by vows. With each promise that left my lips, I felt a deeper sense of despondency. It’s been over a decade and I still remember that day like a disturbing sequence of events I have tried to banish from thought but still replays itself, in slow motion.Then, I saw two of my father’s colleagues in LUTH, neither meeting our eyes. They led him away, I followed closely behind, knowing but not accepting. I heard a deep, curling scream and wondered who was yelling-then- realizing, it was me.
I have read stories of people describing their days in color: yellow depicts a sunny day; blue relating to visiting a body of water; white connotes a wintry horizon. A couple of people have asked me how I felt when my mum was taken. Black would be my color of choice. For until you have walked that path of loss, the deepest loss- where your heart feels like its been ripped from your chest , where tears stop and all that’s left is maddening screams; it’s indescribable. Pitch blackness, absolute blackness. I remember the following days in shades of grey: Receiving visitors; I was in auto pilot. I spoke, but have no recollection of what I said, or to whom. Rarely eating. Hardly sleeping.
I would lock myself in your closet, cramped in a corner immersing myself in the fading scent of your perfume. As your scent faded, I was reminded you were gone. My mind would drift back in time and I would remember snap shots of memories; vibrant colors that came to the fore, as the darkness threatened to engulf me. Our relationship, a beautiful tapestry woven by a strong bond of love and trust. As a child, you were a disciplinarian, never faltering in your responsibilities. As I hit my teens and the flash flood of friends hit the horizon, our relationship transitioned into one of friendship- a great friendship. A friendship that enriched me with a fountain of wisdom, one I still drink from. You were my confidante. There was nothing I didn’t and couldn’t tell you. You were my compass.
Over the years, l make myself anxious when I make a decision, second guessing myself, not having my compass has not been easy. However, when I get to a cross road I remember your words: A decision made from a place of love can never be wrong, irrespective of the outcome. Love is the litmus test.
As another year rolls around, another anniversary of your transition, I remember the last two verses of Psalm 109: With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the throng of worshipers I will praise Him. For He stands at the right hand of the needy, to save their lives from those who would condemn them.