Thursday, January 1, 2015

Losing a Mom is tough on any day...

I am talking about 2006. I was planning to begin the New Year with hope and smile, because, we finally had glimpse of success at the end of the year.  Two year ago my Mom who was diagnosed with BC had agreed to undergo surgery but no radiation and chemo. Radiation was a bit OK with her but she said a  BIG NO to chemotherapy. Unfortunately her wrong decision did not bring out any positive results.
She had two recurrences in 18 months. The initial surgery and repeated surgery had failed equally. That is when we finally convinced her that she should go for chemo. She loved my kids (Rayyan was her favorite of the two) so we used them to emotionally blackmail her. We exaggerated how difficult and painful it will be for them to lose her. Also my brother had reluctantly left to Dubai. How difficult would it be for him to hear her loss in a faraway place? The list was growing when she finally relented and decided to go for radiation and chemotherapy on her own terms and in a hospital she would choose. After my mom being diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and a recurrence in 2004, I was expecting a successful year 2006. What a beginning I had! On the very first day of 2006 even before the sun had come up, the news of my mom’s death shattered me. I did not cry much but could feel the pain. I knew I had to be strong for everyone around me. The worst thing in my life is that I can never afford the luxury of crying over some strong shoulder and get comforted.
On June 7th 1996 my elder sister lost her battle to breast cancer. She was very hesitant to go for the treatment and refused everything from surgery to chemo. She had some kind of phobia for needles and surgeries. A shot for flu meant worse than being shot at by a gun for her. She believed in faith healing which had no scissors or needles. Faith healing, ayurvedic medicines or homeopathy could not save her life. Now on the 1st of January my mother lost her battle to breast cancer again. She couldn’t tolerate the side effects of chemotherapy. She was talking over the phone to me just few hours before she passed away. She told me to forgive my brother and sister if they do some wrong and be there for them always like she was….. That was tough. My mother was too forgiving for them and I am not that kind of forgiving person. I believe in justice but I assured her I will try. My brother was treated like a small baby and never allowed to be responsible for anything. I was a stern elder sister setting rules for study time, playtime, homework, TV and many other things which earned me my Moms wrath. He was not sent to Dubai even when he had good job offers because my Mom always wanted him to be near her. She was afraid she would die when he left her and she would never die in peace. But fate played a game with her. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, my brother who had not been able to earn much over here had to go abroad and struggle a bit there before settling down to a good job with my husband’s help. I love my little brother a lot but being there for him like my mother would be was tough. I have always disliked my younger sister’s obsession with self and her stubbornness though as a sister I love her as well. For her the theory of the universe revolves around me holds true. It was tough being for her my Mom was. My younger sister and I grew up with lot of disagreement between us. My sense of being just always irritates her because she believes in being in supportive for the people we care. What my mom was asking from me was huge. I said ‘Yes’ to her because she was being emotional, with a thought that I will explain things to her later. She went on to give a few guidelines given to my SIL as to how she is to take care of her husband and few for me. My Mom told me that something deep inside her tells her that she may not survive and I may never be able to meet her again. I brushed her aside saying that has been her emotional black mail for me for 30 yrs. And we laughed over that because my mother had made me do a lot of things telling me this is going to be her last wish with some emotional blackmailing tale to accompany it. One fine day, when I had enough of it, I blurted out that she was a crow who was kind of immortal bird. Since then I had used that term to brush her aside whenever she tried her dying emotional blackmails on me.. (India has a myth that crows are ever living birds and death never naturally comes to them). Wait and see your crow theory will not hold this time she said to me; but I did not believe her.
It was only few hours after our conversation with her over the phone when my younger sister called up in panic and said that Mommy wasn’t breathing properly and struggling. My sister cannot handle pressure of any kind and she will be lost as to what to do in situation like this. I told her to stay calm and find a doctor to look at mom because she was in hospital. There was no need to panic because help was at hand. She started crying and told me that most of the people were at celebrations of New Year and no one was around. It was just past the New Year party and maybe she was right. I could not trust her because in a panic state she would miss anyone standing right in front of her.I told her to first talk calmly to Mom and make her relax and go find someone because some has to be there in an oncology hospital. Me and my sister in law held our breaths and waited for her to call again. Minutes later she called up saying the doctor declared our mother dead. I thought she must still be in a panic state and must be imagining things. So I asked her to hand over the phone to someone else that was nearby. I don’t remember who confirmed that what my sister was saying was true. Mommy was no more with us. She had really left all of us behind and gone away to the land of no return.
Being a cancer myself, I had decided to begin the new year with lots of hopes that my mother would win the battle for life at least for a few years with breast cancer and my resolution had been to smile all through the year no matter what happened. May be I was wrong. It is not easy to smile when we lose someone forever—for that a person who has given us life, love and lots of care.
My mom was not highly educated, but, she was a very street smart person. She had the power to make people do what she wanted them to and wonder of wonder she never used threats or treats. She loved pampering all of us in one way or other. Now we all had to make our own decisions and we would never have anyone to blame our faults on. It was very tough for me for a moment to let her go and accept the fact that Mommy is dead. Later I realized that it was easier than letting go of my sister. Back then I just couldn’t let go. I held on to things which belonged to my sister for years and would feel upset when I saw someone using it. Somewhere deep inside me I felt she would come back and need them. Even now after almost a decade I can’t make myself believe that my sister is never going to come back ever again.
My sister said that she surely would be killed by the harsh drugs they would administer to control cancer and I thought she was wrong. She lost her battle gracefully in a way she wanted. May be my thoughts of treatment would have saved were wrong. After mommy lost her battle I don’t know. I feel so confused.
My son was devastated seeing his grandma being buried and when he came back from the graveyard he asked me why it had to be so… he was so emotionally troubled that he had gone there bare footed and did not even know that. I had to think of something to ease his mind. We sat down and I tried to explain death and loss to him in the best way possible for me. I told him that we all have to die someday. Isn’t it better that he is suffering the pain of losing his grandma rather than the other way? One of us has to face death of a loved one. All the people will not die simultaneously. When my time comes I would love to leave him behind to grieve for me rather than have it other way. The wise boy he always is, he calmed down a bit. Since then has learnt to let go of things gracefully.
Sigh !!! Anyway we have to accept the facts and death is the harshest of them all. We all are going to face it one day or other. All we can do now is pray that her soul rest in peace and add prayers for all the people who are not being able to enjoy the season due to their losses.
Below is the picture of my Mom taken by her friend of more than 35 yrs from NY. This is what my Mommy really was; a down to earth person who loved cooking and feeding everyone around her. She was the most excellent cook you could meet and her Biryani was famous in our little world. Not just people from different parts of India had loved her food, but it was very much appreciated by foreigners as well.
I miss you Mommy!


  1. That was a very emotional post...but new year, its good to take stock and move on

  2. I know how emotional you must have felt to write this. Hugs.

  3. Even I am not a very forgiving person , Farida , and do believe in justice. I liked these words from you and felt connected.

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