“Some people commit suicide after someone close to them goes, others turn to religion, and there are those who sit in the kitchen all night and don’t even wait for the sun to rise.” – E. Keret , Surprise Egg
It’s been four months since my mother passed away and I remember feeling like the husband in Keret’s short story. Why didn’t I take her to hospital? Would she still be alive if we had been talking that day?
My mother was eight months pregnant when she passed, with no prior history of illness. She’d never been to hospital, except to give birth and at the start of this pregnancy.
Everyone was getting ready to go out when she started fitting on the sofa, I was upstairs writing before I came down. My dad, trying to stop her jaws from locking, had his fingers in her mouth. She had also wet herself. Later I realised that her water had broken.
The next moments are a blur, waiting for the ambulance felt like hours. I remember everything in slow motion, paramedics taking her to the ambulance, cleaning blood from the corridor and then waiting in the special room. She had died on her way to hospital, but they managed to resuscitate her back to life.
There was a Ghanaian nurse waiting with me and my siblings, she was very nice. She told us about her family, hugged us. Nurses came and went and I gave them the thumbs up as if to ask if everything was OK. They nodded and I can’t remember ever feeling so happy in my life. I hugged the nurse.
Everything after that moved slowly again. The doctors sat me down to tell me that my mum was on her last breaths.
My mum’s friends had started coming in thinking that she had given birth. Then the doctors and nurses sat down with my siblings to explain what had happened and I remember just staring at their bloody shoes and blood on the bottom of their trousers. They told us that it had nothing to do with the pregnancy, it was something that would have happened anyways. I knew they were trying to make us feel better. Last night I read my mother’s post-mortem report and her death was pregnancy related. But I respect their decision for the way they treated us and the kindness they showed at her funeral and life after.
The children (myself included) weren’t allowed to see her when the machine was switched off. My father, her friends and the imam prayed around her.
My brother heard the doctors saying ‘she asked for her kids,’ I’ll let him believe that. We stayed in hospital all night, everyone came. I didn’t want to see my mother once they had cleaned her because I was scared she would look different to what I remembered her as. I am so happy that I did get to see her, it was the first time I cried that day. She looked so peaceful and beautiful as if she were asleep. I’d never seen her look so beautiful and with so much noor in her face. I remember saying sorry in her ear and praying that she be rewarded for every hardship we had put her through.
My mother was one of those people whom everyone loved, her smile was infectious. After she passed, my neighbour told me that my mother had given her disabled child a smile that she would never forget. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. Her death made me realise how many people she had touched and the support network she had built for her children.
She was kept at St. Thomas for nearly a month being examined, which was distressing. We buried her abroad, she was my grandparent’s only daughter (and were now left with one child). Leaving her behind was hard.
Home feels empty. Sort of like a room being emptied of its furniture, it feels cold and her absence echoes everywhere. At the start I stayed online, researching about the stages of grief, reading about other people’s loss. Just to prepare you: grief doesn’t come in stages, one doesn’t come after the other leaves. You feel all these emotions at the same time, anger, sadness, isolation.
You physically don’t feel the same. Your heart hurts and you can’t sleep. You go over everything you said or should have said to her. Whenever you see a date, it reminds you of her. She was doing this in May, she was still alive when I sent that email – everything reminds you of her.
The way I am dealing with her death is working. Taking a year out of uni was never an option, what would I do? Stay in my room crying and never wanting to leave. I worked the next day. I don’t think about my mother because I know I will be sad and I can’t take anymore sadness. I don’t know how to describe it. I wake up early and sleep late so that when I do go to bed I am too tired to think about her.
My mum was my best friend, we were close in age (she was 38 when she passed) and I feel like a part of me is missing. I remember listening to Joe Biden talk about the death of his wife and child, “for the first time in my life, I understood how someone could consciously decide to commit suicide.” My mother was my rock, everything I did was to make her proud – so not having her makes everything seem pointless.
Like I mentioned before, or maybe not, I spent the first few months reading other people’s stories of coping, but mostly about near deaths – anything I could find to help me understand what she was feeling/seeing when she passed.
Like Keret says, some people turn to religion which is true for me. Losing a parent at such a young age and in an incident that could have been prevented eats away at you. We will always question the existence (or non) of life after death. But knowing that my mother is in a better place than me (probably thinking ‘I can’t believe I lived in Souf Landan’) makes the burden less heavy to bear.