What my mum taught me

I was eight years old when I woke up one morning to what I thought was just another, usual morning. Little did I know that, that was the day the rest of my life changed.

When I got up, got dressed and looked around the house, I noticed that my mum wasn’t home. I asked my dad where she was, and he told me that she was hospitalised.

At that moment, I didn’t know how to feel. She was perfectly fine the night before. That was why I didn’t quite understand the gravity of the situation.

I don’t remember what I did for the following couple of weeks. Time sort of flew by. She had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, and was in a coma for the two weeks that followed. My dad and other relatives visited her in the hospital, but they never took me with them. I never got to see, or know, what was going on. The only thing I was told was to pray for her recovery.

I still didn’t know how to feel. I still didn’t understand how someone could go from perfectly fine, to “pray for her recovery” overnight. Then, one night, as we were going home in the car with my dad, he suddenly pulled over and sat silently in the darkness for a while. I think I had guessed what he was about to tell me. After moments of real struggle – which I didn’t notice back then – he finally told me that she had passed away. I didn’t respond. I still didn’t know how to feel. It was so sudden. Only a few weeks ago she was there and we were living our lives, together. I didn’t even remember the last night I had seen her. The only thing I knew was that, one morning I just woke up, and she wasn’t there.

They hadn’t let me see her since she was hospitalised, either. I had no idea she was going be taken away from me like that. There was no warning… suddenly, she was gone – and I never got to say goodbye.

She didn’t get to see me grow up. She wasn’t there to watch over me through my teenage years. She didn’t get the chance to impart her knowledge and wisdom to me.

Death, as I got to know then, was a strange thing – especially for an eight-year-old girl. It was the first time I had met death, and I really didn’t know how to feel about it. I was sad, of course, even devastated. But within that sadness and pain, I got to understand what death really meant. Despite the sadness and pain, I also felt like, somehow, everything was going to be okay.

She was no longer in my life, but I grew up hearing stories about her, especially from my father. He told me how strong she was, not just mentally but also physically. He talked about the hardships they had been through together, and how she had always been there for him. He talked about how strong she was, eagerly helping him with farming and other manual labour. He proudly commented on how she could lift and carry things even some men couldn’t. He told me how tough she was, able to handle so many things at once… how talented she was… how strong and independent… and how good she was at a lot of things… Each time I heard him talk about her, I felt proud.

A couple of decades later, here I am, figuring myself out and finding my way. I thought I grew up without her and her wisdom, but a few months ago I realised that I hadn’t. Yes, she wasn’t there for the most of my life, but the effect she had left on people was so great, that, she had actually lived on, through the stories of others.

Then, I began to see… I began to see where my ‘quest for inner strength’ actually originated from. I began to see that the person I became, and the person I strive to be, was no coincidence. I came to know that those stories had a deeper effect on me, still shaping my future, even decades after she had passed away.

To be a talented, strong, and independent woman who can make her way through anything with perseverence, like my mother? To be strong enough to rival the strength of men? To be tough enough to encourage and support her husband through the toughest of times? And to be a person who keeps inspiring others, even after her death? Hell yeah, I want to be that! I am inspired to be that! I strive to be that!

And now, I know why.

It’s all thanks to her.

And, that was the most important thing she taught me, even after her death…

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