Saturday, April 23, 2005

A Lesson from Death

I lost an aunt a month ago. She must have been the closest relative I have lost to Death..ever. Her death brought me a painful feeling of grief that I had never felt before. Seeing an aunt suffer at the mercy of her cancer, remembering the way she used to be, and then see her so hopeless, helpless..clinging on to dear life.

We all knew that Mak Lang was going. The doctors had pre-empted it and gave us a countdown of sorts. And one day, it came.. She had only three days MAX. The news came to me via sms from my mom.."Mak Lang has 3 more days.." I was numb..I didn;t know what to feel. And me being me, I just shut myself out. Just watching her from the cracks of the door of her hospital room, tears gushing down my cheeks and later rush out to cry, on my own. I just couldn't take it.. I couldn't face her cos I didn't want to let her go. Not her, not any of my family!

I had though, been visiting my Mak Lang on and off, when she was healthier, before she was hospitalised in her last final days since she lives close by. I found a new bond that I have never had with her, partly because, I suppose, among all other nieces and nephews..I was always away..at boarding school, at uni..One evening, I was left alone with her at her home while my uncle went out to get her medication. She could barely talk..but she always wanted me to hold her hand, or rub her back. I was happy, at that time, cos at last, somehow, in my small tiny way, I did something for her.

My Mak Lang finally passed on in front of all her family, siblings, in laws and closest friends. She died in the bravest and admirable way one could. She had already asked for forgiveness from everyone and spent her last days reciting the Quran and when she no longer could, she listened to the voice of her husband reciting verses of God to her. Finally, when she couldn't take it anymore, and I believe it was when she knew she had nothing else to hold on for, she slowly let herself go to the hands of God.

And now she is gone, and we all miss her. Her husband and children the most. What makes me most sad is my uncle, her husband. Its been a month and there isn't a day that passes by that he does not think of her or stop talking about her. We would go to their home and help clean up. He'd say "Jangan alih, Mak Lang letak situ". The first week following her death, he could hardly get himself to go home. He'd say "It's so lonely, I can see her every where I go..but she's not there. I can still smell her.." and tears would well up in his eyes. He sleeps at night, with a stack of her clothes piled up on her side of the bed because "it feels empty..tak biasa lagi."

Last week when I came home from work, he was at my place having a coffee with my parents who would drop by every Friday. He couldn't stop talking about her the whole 6 hours he was there. Reminiscing the past, reminiscing her final days, telling us what she said, what she felt and all the things he could remember about her. Every single thing he saw, every thing he did reminded him of his wife. He saw the daily newspaper in my living room and said to me,"I don't buy newspapers anymore. It's too painful. It used to be my morning routine to go out and buy the paper and send it home to your Mak Lang. But I can't do that anymore"

Last night, he was there again, with my parents and I asked him to stay for dinner. I feel sad when I look at him..Pak Lang used to be the happiest man ever, always joking around, never once serious, always cracking up with jokes. And now..it seems that its hard for him to even work out a smile. He tries though..his lips form a small crescent of a smile, but his eyes betray him, always so sad, missing his wife.

In a way, I feel afraid when I see him. Looking at him makes me think of the day when I have to face death. Not only mine, but of those I love...Would I be able to witness and then live through the death my N, my children, my parents, brother or sister, my aunts and uncles if it comes before mine?? The thought has been lurking at the back of my mind..Will I be able to take it?? I know the answer already..No! It would be too painful to bear. Will I be strong enough?? Maybe on the surface, but I know my heart won't be able to take it and that deep inside I'd feel so helpless.

We are told that we have to "redha"..Yes, we have to let go. But we also have to live on and that's the painful part, having life feel empty and incomplete.. How can one go on with life, when your whole life, it seems, used to center around a certain handful group of people, so much that it became your sole purpose in life? And when that "purpose in life" is gone, what do you do? What becomes your purpose?

Sometimes I wonder whether the grief or the pain that we bear is because we feel that we have not done enough. We always ask ourselves, just like how I asked myself when I'd go and see Mak Lang "Does she know that I love her? And that I will always pray for her?". I told her finally though, when I gathered enough courage to face her without crying. I whispered in her ears and hugged her, "Mak Lang, please be strong. I love you, we all do"

She could only nod, cos she was so weak. I hate myself now, for waiting, cos I could have told her earlier..when she was stronger, when she had more strength to at least say something back.

But that's just it, isn't it? We always wait till the last minute, when there's almost nothing left...to say what we feel. And then, what's the point?

For Pak Lang, I know he has nothing to regret cos he gave his 100 percent to his wife, holding her hand all the way, right to the point where he placed her lovingly in her final resting place. I think he has just lost some sense of purpose and that there's this big empty space in his heart where Mak Lang used to be. I know though, that given time, the pain will heal, and we will get our Pak Lang back.

As for myself, I will just have to START giving my 100% to all those around me and build up my iman for inner strength to face death in life.

Is this enough? I don't know.

Only time can tell.

7 Comments:

Blogger Kak Teh said...

...and its not any easier listening and reading about all these 8000 miles away. i did say we will never have the same Pak Lang again.

12:25 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

he is cheering up, better than before but still not the same. what do we do?

8:14 PM  
Blogger Kak Teh said...

you think i shd come back??? usually works to cheer up even the little ones!

8:29 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

yeah..come back for good!But then again....Maybe NOT! ha!ha!

but seriously, why not??

9:10 PM  
Blogger SC said...

now, isn't that a nice thought kakteh? i am sure so many of the not so little ones could use a lot of cheering up.

anedra: my prayers for you and your family. losing and letting go can be very hard sometimes. hang in there. kakteh will come to the rescue

1:06 AM  
Blogger Kak Teh said...

what, you think i am superwoman or what? i turn their lives upside down everytime i go back...hehe! and i enjoy it!

4:21 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

haiyoo..gotta warn the rest! typhoon Oteh hitting town!

4:52 AM  

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