I have been procrastinating writing this blog entry for days, knowing that the unavoidable moment of facing my mother’s first death anniversary was coming up. Looking back at the eulogy I delivered at her inurnment last year, I realise that I said it all then, and took it to heart.
Mommy was fiery, temperamental, but also the best hugger who never shortchanged anyone on kisses, smiles, and what I treasure the most, holding hands.
- Hers were the hands that vowed to be with Daddy till death do them part.
- Hers were the hands of acceptance that held her baby born with a hare lip and a cleft palate.
- Hers were the protective hands that assured me everything would be alright before and after all my surgeries.
- Hers were the able hands that taught me food doesn’t just fill the stomach, but unites us at the table.
- Hers were the hands that clapped in celebration and in prayer, showing us that you are never too old to feel young.
- Hers were the hands that held Daddy throughout his darkness.
- Hers were the hands I held during her ordeal.
- Mine was the hand she held when she exhaled her last breath
We held hands through it all, I shed my tears and made my promises as she drifted in and out. What she could not express in words, she made up for in hand squeezes, always in response to my whispering “I love you Mommy”. The hand squeezes weakened as the guiding light towards the other side grew stronger, but her final two words to me were the greatest gift any daughter could ever wish for in a lifetime: Blub you.
I have missed her every day since, and I probably always will, but her words live in me and serve as my beacon, now that I am re-building my life. She always said to take care of the living, and not spend too much time mourning the dead or getting caught up in all sorts of ceremonies for them. Instead, make the most of the time with those who are still amongst us, creating memories that will live on even after death has claimed yet another. So I live up to her style and turn my back on tradition and ceremony, and will honour her memory, and Daddy’s, in my own way.
It is a fortuitous event that her death anniversary fall within the auspicious Diwali celebrations in the Hindu world, the festival of lights, and a celebration she actually enjoyed and was fascinated by. She was always my candle in the dark while growing up, and a part of me will always call out to her when I am stuck on something. But she also taught me the importance of being the light to others, bringing comfort and joy to those who need it the most. Her wealth was not defined by a bank account, but by the love and respect of her friends, family, neighbours, and co-workers.
If there was anyone who knew how to live carpe diem, it was her. Throughout her life, Mommy placed more importance on travel than material possessions, and this only became clear to me in my later years. I honour her with every trip, and try in every way to emulate her generosity of spirit, often stumbling when I myself am in need of kindness and a helping hand. And she was never afraid to tell others how she felt about them, especially if the emotion involved was love.