Tears In Heaven

  I was the youngest in the family and had always been mommyís little girl. She was always there when I needed her- whenever I was sick she would nurse me back to health; whenever my sisters bullied me I would run to my mother and ask her to take revenge for me; whenever I felt miserable I would bring my sorrows to her and she would always give me consolations. My world felt safe and protected when she was around.


The day when my mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer I could not and did not want to believe it. I kept insisting that the doctor was mistaken and that this could not happen to her. I was only nineteen years old and it had never crossed my mind that I would lose either one of my parents so soon. My mother had already reached menopause and the stain on her skirt could not have been menstruation. She was actually bleeding. Her gynecologist advised her to seek treatment immediately because the sooner she did, the better the chance of a cure. My mother did not like hospitals and was afraid at the thought of therapy. She had heard many frightening stories of the side effect of therapy and so when my sisters wanted to bring her to the treatment centre, she flatly refused to go. She said life and death was predestined and that we should not worry about her too much. My sisters persuaded her day and night for a week to seek treatment but they finally had to give up. They could not very well drag her to the hospital kicking and screaming. I did not try to persuade her then because I still could not accept the fact that she was really ill. Sometimes looking back, I feel a deep sense of remorse. I asked myself frequently, "Could I have done something?"


            She preferred instead to rely on Chinese medicine. She conscientiously took herbs and animal parts that the Chinese sinseh recommended to her. The sinseh would claim that he had cancer patients before and that he had managed to cure them. She believed him or it was that she wanted to believe him very much because it offered her hope.


            She took the medicine for half a year but the bleeding never stopped. One night she hemorrhaged and an ambulance had to be called in to bring her to the hospital. She had lost a lot of blood and I was shocked when I saw my motherís face. She was as pale as a ghost. "Oh my god", I thought and I prayed, "Please donít let my mom die. Iíll give up ten years of my life for her. Just donít let her die." Thank god that night she survived but the doctor had only bad news for us. He said that her condition was very bad and that we should not expect too much about how much longer she had to live. He added that without treatment she had no chance of surviving past a month. That night we went home wearing our hearts on our sleeves. Our mother had always been a kind and sweet woman. She had always cared for others more than she cared for herself and we did not understand why she had to be stricken with such an illness.


                After she was discharged from the hospital, I knew I had been given a chance to spend more time with my mother and I should treasure every moment I still had with her. I never realised how much I took her for granted before this. I felt really indebted to her for all the things she had done for me.


My mother went for laser therapy three times a week and she looked fine for about eight months but she grew weaker and weaker after that. When she could not walk anymore we had to wheel her around the house and help her to the toilet and to bathe. At times she could hardly get up from her bed. Watching her suffer was very heart-wrenching for me. I had wished that I could somehow carry some of the pain for her.


After one year, the laser therapy was of no more use because the cancer cells had ravaged almost every part of her body. She was admitted into the intensive care unit again but for the last time. She was given morphine and other drugs to alleviate her pain and that was all they could do for her. I would go straight to the hospital after school everyday and keep her company. I would tell her about school and how I wished she would get well soon. She and I knew very well that there was no chance of that but I was hoping against hope that some miracle would happen because God would never let bad things happen to good people. 


Towards the last few days of her life, she was drifting in and out of sleep. Her breathing was laboured and she hardly had the strength to talk when she was awake. There was only pain in her eyes. The look of suffering on her face was unbearable but there was nothing we could do. It seemed death would be her only release. After two weeks in the hospital, the doctor told us that there was nothing more he could do for her and that she could be discharged. When my mother knew she could go home after spending two weeks in the hospital, she was so happy her face practically lit up. She probably knew her end was near and she did not want to spend whatever time she had left in a hospital. That night, on the 21st of April 1995, she passed away peacefully at home after one and a half years of suffering, with the whole family by her side. We were devastated by her death but relieved at the same time because she had finally found release from the physical pain that was torturing her.


            It has been three years now since our mother had passed away and all of us have learnt to cope with her death, each of us in our own way. Sometimes, we will reminisce about the happy times we had with her and sometimes a few tears will fall remembering our beloved mother. We may have lost her but she will live on in our hearts forever.