I haven't used that word in a long long time.
Eight years ago, on this day, my mother succumbed to cancer. No one allowed her to go even though she's been sick for six whole months. And we all knew that the dreaded day would come. It was a rainy foggy Sunday night. Church-goers were returning from the evening services and their chatter could be heard with the sound of the rain from the bedroom where she lay. She was tired of sleeping, my dad held her up on the bed. She smiled and said she liked it and then she told my dad she'd go! And she went... without a fight, without tears, without hesitation.
That afternoon, I sat quietly at a church in Shillong listening to a sermon on John 15:1-6. Pruning had been the topic. I remembered telling myself that, that time was the pruning phase in my life with my mother's sickness and all the problems that we've had within the family. I also remembered telling myself that the painful part will soon be over when new leaves start budding with new life. Little did I know how my 'pruning' would go!! After church service, my hostel bus went for a joyride at Golf Link. I stared at the setting sun for quite some time, feeling as if I've lost something great. A friend of mine, knowing my family situation and seeing my empty eyes, asked me if I wanted to pray. We did, in the meadows.
4 hours later, I received the phone call.
My 11 hour journey from Shillong to Aizawl for my Ma's funeral is another story in itself. A story, sometimes, too painful for me to retell.
However, this post is not about me reliving that painful day when I have to bury the woman who meant the world to me. This is about me attempting to pay homage to her memory.
If ever there was a life abundantly lived, it would have been my mother's. I learnt a lot of things from my mother's short yet abundant life.If I even try to list half the things I learnt from her or how much she meant to me, this post would have no end.
My Ma was no fancy woman. The only gold ornament she ever possessed in her lifetime was her wedding band. She never walked in expensive shoes or dressed fancy. She might have wanted to, she's also human, but she never did. She was one of the few women who kept others before themselves; one of the few who learnt that there's more to life than just loving, indulging and pampering oneself. I know that my Ma's no perfect woman. But here was a woman who lived such a full life that she helped prepare and plan out her funeral and stitched the cover of her very own coffin. My Ma, even on the valley of the shadow of death, walked with such grace and courage. Knowing her, I couldn't help but say, she's the closest a human can get to being the Proverbs 31 woman.
I hope to be like my Ma someday. Of course, I know I will never stand up to her. But trying doesn't hurt.
If these years of living without a mother taught me one thing, it's this: There will never come a day, when I'm old enough or matured enough to not long for a touch of her hand, the scent of her skin and the sound of her voice. In fact, I would give the world to hear her call my name just one more time.
Eight years ago, I stood by a window, rain fogging up the glass as I looked towards the cemetery where my mother had just been buried. I can still feel my heart breaking while realizing that I can't shield her from the rain and from the cold earth that enveloped her. I remembered opening her wardrobe and taking her scent in, wishing there was a way I could capture and keep that scent from fading. I remembered lying awake at night, thinking about her lying all alone in the cold, wet earth wishing I could do something to keep her warm. I remembered that feeling of utter desolation, of magnificent pain and gruesome loneliness. That night I made a promise to myself. And through these years, I've always reminded myself of that promise lest I succumb to the pain and loneliness.
Today, I make that promise once again.
Nu, I promise to always cherish your memory without forgetting how to live on...
|Thantluangi Zathang (1952 - 2003)|