I’ve always thought that 13 was a good number. We lived happily in Flat No. 13 for the longest time. I’ve never hated Friday the 13th, despite the negativity that surrounds it. But last year left me absolutely confused. I was deeply sad and depressed for the first half of the year, and then my life moved forward from the stagnant plateau it was stalled at.
My mother was battling Cancer for five long years. She had a wonderful set of doctors who were nothing but absolutely positive. No one ever mentioned stages, terminal-ness or anything morbid. She lived happily, although perhaps not pain free, for five years after the discovery. Then last year around April, around the time Easter happens, we noticed that her memory wasn’t what it used to be. Her usual Sudoku’s and crosswords were going undone. I blamed it on her just being tired, or bored of the same thing. But the signs were getting more obvious. She began forgetting names, dates and other things my mum would never ever forget. She stopped eating, because she couldn’t chew.
That’s when my dad and I decided to take her to the hospital. The last word she said to me was “Bye” when I was leaving the hospital to take her reports for a second opinion. She had a seizure in the hospital that rendered her pretty much motionless for over two weeks. By then she even stopped talking. I spent every single day in the hospital, praying for her to move and talk and recognise me.
Then one day, she smiled at me. My mother’s smile. I cannot describe that joy. It felt surreal. Like nothing could have ever made me happier. My heart swelled, literally. I could feel it. It filled my chest and throat and felt like it would pop out of my mouth. That’s the happiest I have ever been, to see her smile again.
The doctors could not figure out what was wrong. But my constant research of her symptoms online lead me over and over again to one thing. A thing I did not want to talk about.
She spent over two months in the hospital. With my dad and I doing whatever we could do for her. After four spinal taps and several scans, each rendering my sweet mother weaker than the first, the doctor broke the news to me, in the most nonchalant way possible. She had carcinoma meningitis or Leptomeningeal Carcinomatous.
“I knew that you over-paid heartless asshole, thanks for taking two months to tell me!”
Online, Leptomeningeal Carcinomatous, is an uncommon and devastating complication of cancer. Not everyone goes through it. It is when they find cancer cells in the spinal fluid and the fluid surrounding the brain that leads to the brain becoming a big lump of jelly, not being able to function and finally dying. That’s the inevitable. Death.
But at that time I was under the impression that I would be able to save her. Me. I would do everything, keep her extremely comfortable, play her music to stimulate her brain, talk to her, stay positive, massage her feet to heal the brain and everything else that I could read or learn about. So I did. When they finally told us we could take my mum home, I was on top of it all. Feeding her meals through a tube, cleaning her, changing her. I was going to make my mum okay. Every night I prayed that I would wake up the next morning and she would smile at me. But she didn’t.
One night I had this feeling something was wrong. So I slept with my head near her feet so I could see her face. We put of the light in the room and I could only see her face thanks to a streetlight. Through half-closed eyes I monitored her every breath. Then at 2am she heaved a heavy sigh and stopped breathing. I waited. Then panicked. Then woke up my dad. And he tried to resuscitate her by pumping her chest. With each pump he allowed the last breath to leave her lungs. But at that time I thought she was still breathing so when he gave up I frantically continued. Then I was hysterical. And after that everything, including the funeral is a total blur. She died on 30th of June 2013.
My dad is still devastated. And so am I.
Besides my family, there was one more huge support. The only person I wanted to talk to when my mum was in the hospital. All my other friends wanted to visit and lend a ear, but I wanted nothing to do with that. I didn’t want sympathy I just wanted someone to be there. And he was. There was a moment when I thought; I will never feel love ever again because I am sapped out. But every time I saw him walk into the hospital I felt it.
After my mum died, I was a horrible person to deal with. Crying for everything. Hollow. Bitter even. But he never judged me or told me to snap out of it. I probably would have. I don’t know.
In early September ‘13, he told me to “make a ring”. He asked my dad for my hand in marriage, and if it was okay or too early. We got engaged in October and married this March. The wedding was wonderful and full of love and support from so many people. Our honeymoon, which was totally planned by him, was amazing.
2013 left me extremely emotionally drained. From extreme grief to a start of a happily-ever-after. Thankfully, post wedding and honeymoon, 2014 has been positively uneventful. For now.