My flight had taken me only to the company of my aunt and a long-time family friend. No sight of my mother. There was quite a bit of distance to drive after we left the airport. During the ride, my aunt told me about my mother’s most recent surgery, one of late yesterday. Once again, the word was “to relieve her from water collection in her abdomen.” We finally arrived in the hospital. Leading my mother’s surgeons’ team, my uncle gave me a brief speech about what to expect in an IC unit. I had never been to one. His colleagues didn’t appear comfortable with the idea of a young, unsuspecting female to enter the area. Since the patient was her mother. One whom the daughter was known also there to have worshipped her for her entire life.
When I entered the IC unit, my mother seemed to be just waking from her anesthesia. Barely recognizable, noticeably weak and pale. She looked up. As soon as she saw me see her in that horrible condition she became severely agitated and began to struggle as if to fend off her daughter’s image there – what she knew to be her deathbed. Of all her loved ones, I was not supposed to see her like this. What about the promise her husband and her brother had made to her? Why was I there? At the ending time of her life? With her looking the way she looked? Helpless. So very helpless. In a matter of what I remember to be a few minutes, my mother’s attending doctor added more sedative to her IV bag. If not asleep, she could harm herself beyond any more help, against his efforts to lessen her pain, he told me; for, her suffering would only increase very soon.
Before the sedation took its effect, or, maybe even after – as my mother was an extremely willed individual, she signaled for writing items with frantic hand and arm movements she barely had any strength to control. Everyone in the room was startled. Seeing her fight off what we were told was a heavy sedative that she was under. Paper and pencil were gathered from the nearby office of one of the doctors. Not being able to move much with all the vital sign hooks and various needles and bags and whatever else was attached to her I had no idea about for what reason, and in what must have been great physical pain, she scribbled something on the paper, on her lap, without being able to look down much. My father lifted her plea up: “Please. I am dying. Let’s end this. I want this to end.” Almost every letter crooked but legible. When she took in the lack of any movement on behalf of her physicians, she signaled for another paper and repeated her words. When also her second effort did not do what she hoped would be the outcome, she lunged her fingers at all the life-prolonging foreign items on and around her body. More sedatives were added to her IV bag in an instant. A short while later, all her movements stopped all at once. The life machine had overruled her will to die right then and there. She was muted.
Ovarian cancer. Once again. It had now taken three mothers in my family out of their daughters’ lives too soon. All at or close to the age of fourty-eight. My mother’s aunt – my grandmother’s older sister. My grandmother herself – my mother’s mother, that is. And when my mother had found out her pregnancy with me, at that…
For years, I didn’t and couldn’t stop blaming my father and my uncle – however in silence – for keeping a fatally flawed promise they made to my mother. I felt betrayed. Being robbed of the time I should have been given the opportunity to spent with my mother. For not ever being able to say my final goodbye to the person whom I loved the most before I became a mother myself.